Co-authored with Felisha Brooks-Floyd
WIC is a vital benefit for many military families, but it is often underutilized. This presentation explores barriers to access to WIC and the particular challenges facing breastfeeding military families, and examines potential channels for connecting with this underserved population. Many military families do not know about WIC, or that they are eligible. Frequent moves to different locations often mean that families may qualify for WIC in one state, but not in another. WIC-Overseas is a separate agency run by the Department of Defense that also has its own qualifications. For families that do qualify, Peer Counselors may be available to offer lactation support, but may not have access to military installations, where many families live. For single-car families, traveling to a WIC office in a distant location may be impossible. Birthing locations and pediatric/family care facilities, especially those located within Military Treatment Facilities (MTFs) may not share information about WIC with their patients. WIC agencies do not track military family demographics in the populations they serve, so there is a lack of data to calculate what percentage of military families are eligible, and what percentage of those eligible are receiving benefits.
Mom2Mom Global is a military-specific peer support and advocacy organization that offers a template for reaching breastfeeding military families. Our model combines peer mentoring, online and social media presence, and forging partnerships with the medical facilities, lactation professionals, and other community resource organizations in military communities, including WIC, to create a seamless network of support, based on the specific needs and culture of breastfeeding military families.