Applying Racial Equity to U.S. Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs - Flipbook - Page 35
research to understand the impact
Figure 7: Percentage of Infants Who Were Ever Breastfed by Poverty
of peer counseling on African
Income Ratio (PIR) and Race-ethnicity: United States, 1999-2006
American breastfeeding rates
and what might improve their
PIR less than or equal to 1.85
PIR greater than 1.85
experiences should be undertaken.
Further research is needed
on how the programs are
implemented, how and by whom
the programs are managed,
whether peer support is accurately
tailored to the needs of the target
community, and peer counseling
caseloads. See the CinnaMoms
program model for breastfeeding
support for African American
women on page 31.
Women who are breastfeeding
are eligible for WIC benefits for
a longer time period than women
who are not—up to one year after
the baby is born for breastfeeding
NOTES: Income status was defined using the poverty income ratio (PIR), an index calculated by dividing family
income by a poverty threshold specific for family size. Low income was defined as PIR less than or equal to 1.85, and
mothers, but only six months for
high income was defined as PIR greater than 1.85.
non-breastfeeding mothers. The
¹ Significant differences between the two income groups.
policy was meant to encourage
Significantly different from non-Hispanic white and Mexican-American infants within income groups.
women to breastfeed, but due to
the absence of data, the policy’s
impact is unknown. It may be
working at cross purposes with the racial equity goals of the program. Since women of color have lower breastfeeding rates
overall, they are eligible for WIC benefits for a shorter time.
All women should be empowered to give their babies the best nutritional start in life.
Communities of color have a long history of honoring relationship and community. Programs have the potential to improve
breastfeeding rates when they are committed to cultural humility (see glossary), seek to overcome the mistrust associated
with the historical trauma of being denied the ability to breastfeed and nurture their children, acknowledge the barriers and
stress that living in a racist society presents, and improve the treatment provided by healthcare professionals.
DID YOU KNOW THAT…
Indigenous, Native Hawaiian, and
African American mothers are less
likely to breastfeed?
African American women have
the lowest rate of exclusive
percentage points less than white
women? The breastfeeding divide
is even wider at the one-year mark
• Take further steps to understand the historical, structural, and societal
barriers that confront women, specifically racism and trauma. WIC
agency staff can use their training on historical trauma and structural
racism (see glossary) to help strengthen their relationships with WIC
participants. Training at both the national and state and local levels
is needed. WIC should adopt a strengths-based approach to create
and implement programs that equip mothers to overcome barriers to
breastfeeding. As explained in the Spotlight box on page 37, this involves
honoring the traditions of particular communities of color.
WIC should hire and consult with individuals and organizations
that have experience with this type of programming, such as the
Oregon Inter-Tribal Breastfeeding Coalition. Local community health
organizations and leaders of color should co-design program content and
implementation methods that honor community tradition and provide
optimal breastfeeding support to women of color. See Recommendation
5 for more on the racial demographics of local and state WIC offices.
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