National WIC Association visits District Health Department #10 in Michigan

by Meryl Smith CLS MA RD

Quinney Harris,  Project Manager for DHD#10 CPHMC grant, visited Lake County, Michigan on Monday, August 8, 2016. Anne Bianchi, MS RD and Meryl Smith, CLS MA RD, co-project managers for this grant, as well as Jennikka Baldwin (and Zion, her 6 month old son) met with Quinney to review the grant activities and agenda for the day.  Lake County has a population of approximately 11,000 over 574 square miles.

Our windshield tour was quite extensive for the short time that we had. In addition to the persons mentioned above, Gordie, Moeller, food advocate and member of CHIL (Choosing Health in Lake County) coalition participated in our tour.  Unfortunately, we had to eliminate many of the sights, but we think Quinney got an idea of the expanse of the county and the length of time it took to get to a variety of sites. 

Our first stop was “The Tiki Hut”, located in Chase, MI. This farm has participated in CHIL’s farm market at the Health Department during Project Fresh. Paul Avery, owner, operator and farmer gave us a tour of his farm. Not only does he have produce plants, but we saw bunnies, rabbits, chickens, turkeys and more! The Tiki Hut sells right from the road and tries to sell at a nearby farm market in the neighboring county. 

Next, we visited the town of Idlewild, Baldwin. Idlewild is a vacation and community in Yates Township, located just east of Baldwin in southeast Lake County, a rural part of northwestern lower Michigan. During the first half of the 20th century, it was one of the few resorts in the country where African-Americans were allowed to vacation and purchase property, before such discrimination became illegal in 1964.  Idlewild was an active year-round community and was visited by well-known entertainers and professionals from throughout the country. At its peak it was the most popular resort in the Midwest and as many as 25,000 would come to Idlewild in the height of the summer season to enjoy camping, swimming, boating, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, roller skating, and night-time entertainment. When the 1964 Civil Rights Act opened up other resorts to African-Americans, Idlewild's boomtown period subsided, but the community continues to serve as a vacation destination and retirement community, and as a landmark of African-American heritage. The Idlewild African American Chamber of Commerce was founded  for the purpose of promoting existing local businesses and for attracting newer ones to the Lake County area.  Coincidentally, Quinney has viewed the movie “Idlewild” and plays the soundtrack regularly. He had no idea that he would be touring it in his travels!

About 30 miles north (Irons, MI), we visited the Seventh Day Adventist Community center where food and clothing is distributed. This is a very small pantry and helps about 25 families per month. The director of this center is also an active participant in our coalition.
It’s about 12:45 and we dined at the local Iron’s Café, where the debut of the Healthy Menu guide was presented. After lunch, we returned back to Baldwin, MI where our coalition meeting was being held. Eleven members attended and we celebrated successes, challenges and future activities. 

Immediately following CHIL meeting, Quinney stayed to attend the Lake County Food Council Meeting. This is another group working side by side with us. Their goals and objectives are different but with an overall goal of access to healthy food. Quinney Harris response to the day, “Yes, it was a great site visit!  I was truly impressed by everyone’s energy/excitement, great ideas, and willingness to partner.  Thanks for welcoming me with your Michigan hospitality and providing such a good overview of the needs and assets in Lake County.”

Dunklin County Health Department Presents the Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite Award

By: Kim Gurley, Project Coordinator

Happy National Breastfeeding Month! 

As part of our work in Dunklin County, our Branching Out for a Healthier Community coalition has been working to increase breastfeeding friendly businesses in Kennett, Missouri. A few weeks ago, the local newspaper, The Daily Dunklin Democrat, wrote an article titled "Reflections Mental Health Care given Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite Award" highlighting the success of our coalition. Read the full story here

The WIC breastfeeding coordinator and dietitian have worked collaboratively with me to help increase the number of businesses that are Breastfeeding Friendly. Walmart in Kennett, MO has already been certified but needs more signs to make people more aware, so we have been working with Walmart to increase signage. After starting the Facebook page (Branching Out For A Healthier Community), we announced that we are trying to get more businesses to become Breastfeeding Friendly and asked them to contact us. We also informed them of the mini-grant that they could utilize from the Department of Health and Senior Services to help encourage them to take advantage of this opportunity.

Tiffany Leeker, owner of Reflections Mental Health Care replied to the Facebook comment that she would be interested in the grant and becoming a Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite.  As the project coordinator, I reached out to Gary Eaton, manager of Walmart in Malden to talk with him about becoming a Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace due to them being a part of a bigger franchise. The WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor, Nutrition Coordinator, and myself met with each business to provide education on breastfeeding and help explain the paperwork to them to boost them to Gold Level.  

At the Gold Level, the business must meet the highest standards, such as a written breastfeeding policy with education provided for all employees, a private room (small table, electrical outlet, refrigerator for storing milk, comfortable chair), provision of flextime, maternity leave for up to 12 weeks, and a list of local breastfeeding resources. These are just some of the many standards that businesses must meet in order to obtain this certification. Both businesses were inspired to fill out the paperwork to send in to be approved at the Gold level to become Breastfeeding Friendly Worksites. We are very happy to now have three businesses in our county that are Breastfeeding Friendly Worksites!

Happy National Farmers Market Week! Spotlight on West Warwick, RI

By: Sarah Lopatka, Westbay Community Action Agency WIC Project Outreach Manager

Westbay Community Action Agency’s core team for The Community partnerships for Healthy Mothers and Children (CPHMC) Project joined with West Warwick Health Equity Zone, for the first of six Farmers Markets planned over the summer. The West Warwick Farmers Market took place at West Warwick Senior Center on July 20th, from 11am to 1pm. The day was a huge success! There were families lined up at the Farmers tables’ right when the event took off. We had a total of 113 people attend the first Farmers Market. 

The local farmers that took part in the market were, Mike from Oakdale Farm and Cody from C & M Farm. Both farms will be participating in the upcoming farmers markets planned for the rest of the summer. 

To make the day more exciting as the community was able to buy fresh local produce we were able to have a few community partners come out and participate in our Farmers market day. There was Mind and Body Studio doing Zumba and physical activities for the kids. Also we had a face painter which as you can see, the boy to the right took full advantage of the hula-hoop challenge and having his face painted like the red power ranger.  We also, had a cooking demonstration from SNAP-Ed. They made a cucumber salad for everyone to try and take home the recipe. 

It was a true success to see the effort of the project coming together. We were able to see first hand our projects improvements to The West Warwick community in full force. We look forward to the rest the Farmers’ Markets over the summer!

National WIC Association Visits Bonner County

By: Nanci Jenkins, Panhandle Health District CPHMC Grant Manager

Quinney Harris, Grant Project Manager with the National WIC Association, arrived in Bonner County on Tuesday, June 28th to conduct a site visit and learn more about Bonner County, where a Community Partnerships for Healthy Mothers and Children (CPHMC) grant is being implemented.

The visit began with dinner at Trinity at City Beach in Sandpoint, ID. Sandpoint is the largest city in Bonner County with a population of approximately 7,500. The local grant manager, Nanci Jenkins, MS, RDN, LD, invited coalition physicians, Dr. Zachary Halversen and Dr. Ronald Jenkins to participate in the dinner meeting. Dr. Halversen shared his enthusiasm for the community garden projects that the coalition has begun working on. He is particularly excited by the concept that the coalition can help establish a school based garden program to enhance the nutritional value of the summer foods program that is already in place. The idea is that the students will participate in the growing and harvesting of the produce that they will then consume. Dr. Jenkins has taken the lead on the “Fresh and Healthy Foods” project. As Dr. Jenkins describes the program it will allow all Bonner County residents an opportunity to try WIC approved foods at a reduced price and in so doing expose more families to foods they might not otherwise know that they enjoy. The goal is to shift all grocery store shoppers towards buying more nutritious and less calorically dense foods which will contribute to a decreased risk of chronic disease in Bonner County shoppers.

Day #2 of the visit was spent exploring the county from beautiful Lake Pend Oreille. It is the largest lake in the state of Idaho at 43 miles long. It is also the deepest lake in the state at 1,158 feet making it the 5th deepest in the nation. The surface area covers 85,960 acres with 111 miles of shoreline. All but the southern tip of the lake is in Bonner County. Experiencing a tour of this lake helped Mr. Harris appreciate how spread out Bonner County is and some of the challenges presented by the CPHMC grant requirement to reach 50% of the entire population with the project.

Dinner on day #2 was held at The Tango Café’ in the Community Center within the Columbia Bank building in the center of the city of Sandpoint. It was a unique opportunity for Quinney to dine with some of the low-income families in the county who are being served by the CPHMC grant. Quinney was invited to participate in a dinner arranged by the volunteers of an organization called Jacey’s Race. Jacey’s Race is a non-profit event put on entirely by non-paid volunteers. It is a 5K running race and a 1K fun run/walk followed by family festivities that include face painting, clowns, bouncy slide, dunk tank, chili cook off, snow cones, cake walk, EXPO vendors and a silent auction. All proceeds benefit Bonner County families with children diagnosed with cancer or other severe illness. Additionally the pediatric unit at the local hospital and another local non-profit that serves the areas children, Community Cancer Services, receive funds from the event. The beneficiary dinner is arranged so that the new beneficiary families can meet the previous beneficiary families and have some familiar faces and people to talk to on race day. Team leader, Amy Sutliff (WIC client/advocate) participated in the dinner.  Mr. Harris had the opportunity to hear directly from many of the family’s about the challenges their child’s illness presents and about the resources available and lacking in the county.

Thursday morning June 30 was the official site visit day. Quinney Harris met Nanci Jenkins at the new Panhandle Health Building across the street from Travers Park in Sandpoint. A tour of the facility that included the WIC department, FACH (Family and Community Health), Environmental and Home Health commenced. Bonner Partners in Care Clinic (BPICC), a local volunteer clinic for those with no insurance, operates out of this facility as well. Key staff were introduced.

Next Quinney and Nanci drove out to the city of Ponderay where they met with the Lake Pend Oreille School District (LPOSD) #84 Superintendent, Shawn Woodward. Mr. Woodward is a coalition member and extremely supportive of any efforts to improve the health of all students in the school district. The meeting in Ponderay was followed by a meeting back in Sandpoint with a local grocer, Steve Furin. After having met with the coalition, Mr. Furin has been talking with his company’s board members and seeking approval to implement the “Fresh & Healthy Foods” program proposed by the CPHMC coalition.

Lunch back in Sandpoint was next at a local restaurant called, Spuds. Idaho is famous for their potatoes and appropriately named “Spuds” restaurant features Idaho grown potatoes. Quinney and Nanci were joined by team leader Anna Blackford. Anna participated in the New Orleans training and expressed her enthusiasm for the coalition efforts to date.

After lunch Quinney and Nanci headed straight to Bonner General Health, the local hospital serving all of Bonner County. There they met with the C.E.O., Sheryl Rickard, and the health promotion specialist, Misty Robinson. Quinney learned about the backpack for kids program. This started out as actual back packs but it was difficult to keep the packs clean or even to get them returned so they have changed to providing food in plastic bags. The local hospital facilitates collecting funds and purchasing food to fill the packs for every child in the LPOSD who qualifies for the free and reduced lunch program. Currently the food provided is chosen for its price and convenience without regard to nutritional value. Ms. Rickard was open to exploring coalition ideas as to how to get more nutritious food home to the children. The packs go home with the child on Friday afternoon with the intent that they will be consumed by the child over the weekend so the student returns Monday morning able to learn because they are less hungry.

The city of Dover was the next stop where Quinney got to see the older part of the city in contrast to the newly built “Dover Bay” community. Much of the concerns of the target population are hidden in Bonner County by some of the newer communities like those in Dover and Sandpoint. The windshield tour of the county was a drive south through Sagle, Westwood, Careywood & Cocolalla ending up just outside Bonners County in the main Panhandle Health District 1 office in Hayden, ID. There, Quinney and Nanci met with administrators, Lora Whalen, Jim Fenton, Christine Crummer, Don Duffy and Kimberly Young. The group discussed the goals of the grant and the details of the reporting requirements. Kimberly Young answered Quinney’s question as to why Bonner County was chosen as the place to implement this grant. She replied that it was because the needs assessment revealed a high rate of poverty, food insecurity and obesity in a county called a “Health Professional Shortage Area” (HPSA) by the US Health and Human Services Department.

After meeting with several community leaders who are members of the Bonner County Coalition, witnessing the challenges presented by the shear area of Bonner County and having the opportunity to speak with some members of the target population of low income Mother’s and Children the hope is that Quinney left his site visit feeling confident that the newly formed CPHMC project coalition, “Bonner County Coalition for Health”, is comprised of community members with connections, skills and resources to offer solutions to the many needs that were identified during his visit. 

Increasing access to healthy environments in the early childcare setting: San Juan Basin Health Department’s work through the Community Partnership for Health Mothers and Children Grant

By Sloan Gingg, Project Coordinator, WIC Grant, San Juan Basin Health Department

Research shows that reaching children at a young age improves chances of embracing healthy messages and behaviors for a lifetime. Early childcare education has been established as a critical partner in the fight against childhood obesity and other chronic diseases and provides the opportunity to shape healthy behaviors through education.[1] As part of our chronic disease-prevention grant through the National WIC Association’s Community Partnerships for Healthy Mothers and Children, San Juan Basin Health Department (SJBHD) is partnering with Tri County Head Start to sponsor the implementation of evidence-based coordinated school health curriculum. Tri County Head Start staff will implement the CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) Early Childhood (CEC) Curriculum in its five sites in La Plata and Archuleta counties. CEC is designed to nurture a love of physical activity, provide introduction to classroom-based gardening and nutrition, and encourage healthy eating in children. The curriculum will provide 9 nutrition-based and 10 gardening-based lessons to encourage healthy eating behaviors, as well as over 400 activity cards with music aimed at promoting physical activity. SJBHD will purchase CEC and host comprehensive training for Tri County Head Start educators and administrators, as well as evaluation to ensure implementation fidelity. Implementation in each of the 5 locations will begin in October of this year.

SJBHD is also working with the Garden Project of SW Colorado and Healthy Community Food Systems to establish small preschool gardens in three Head Start locations in La Plata and Archuleta Counties. The Garden Project has established many school gardens in our community and we were able to tour one of them gardens with Quinney during our site visit.

The preschool gardens we’ll establish at three Head Start locations will be raised beds and/or container gardens and will supplement the implementation of CATCH Early Childhood. The new gardens will make the project more comprehensive and more likely to be successful in increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables [2] (and ultimately reducing chronic disease). SJBHD is working to establish internal garden coordinators – either on-site staff or passionate parents – to ensure the gardens will be cared for and sustained beyond the timeline of this project. During Quinney’s site visit, we had the opportunity to visit one of the Head Start locations we’ll be working with, Roberta Shirley Center (RSC).

Jeremy, head cook at RSC, showing staff the spot where the future RSC garden will be.

Jeremy, head cook at RSC, showing staff the spot where the future RSC garden will be.

At RSC, we met the head cook, Jeremy – also a garden enthusiast – who has committed to maintaining the preschool garden. He will serve on the garden planning committee and use fresh produce from the garden as often as possible in school meals. We also got to see the enthusiasm the staff has for the implementation of both the preschool garden and CATCH, which is always energizing and exciting to see. We’re looking forward to seeing these efforts come to fruition throughout the course of this grant work!

[1] Foltz, Jennifer L., Ashleigh L. May, Brook Belay, Allison J. Nihiser, Carrie A. Dooyema, and Heidi M. Blanck. "Population-Level Intervention Strategies and Examples for Obesity Prevention in Children." Annu. Rev. Nutr. Annual Review of Nutrition 32.1 (2012): 391-415. Web.

[2] Mikkelsen, Mette V., Sofie Husby, Laurits R. Skov, and Federico Ja Perez-Cueto. "A Systematic Review of Types of Healthy Eating Interventions in Preschools." Nutrition Journal Nutr J 13.1 (2014): n. pag. Web.

ACOG visits Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA)

By Rachael Black, Project Coordinator, MICA

Anna-Maria Roache, of The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), visited Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA) on June 29th and 30th for its Community Partnerships for Healthy Mothers and Children (CPHMC) project sit visit. The scope of the CPHMC project covers two of MICA’s core counties, Marshall and Tama.

The day began with Anna-Maria meeting the key staff, Gloria Symons (Health Services Director), Sierra Stevens (WIC Coordinator), Rachael Black (Project Coordinator), and Grant Gale (Health Services Specialist). Anna-Maria was given an overview of MICA and its services, the Community Needs Assessment which was completed, and where we stood on our Community Action Plan (CAP). Then it was off for a tour of the Marshalltown area. We visited three corner/convenience stores which we hope to improve healthy food options and promotion, as well as several places in which we anticipate partnering to create Breastfeeding Friendly environments. We ate lunch at one such location and all agreed to not count that meal against our current diets.

After lunch we took some time to visit Albion, a small town near Marshalltown in Marshall County. Anna-Maria was surprised as we started back to Marshalltown, she turned around in her seat to look back on the small town and ask “wait, was that it?” It took less than two minutes to drive from one end of the town to the other. In fact, it took more time to dive to the town (ten minutes) than it did to drive through it. For our next stop we visited a healthy snack initiative which MICA already had established in partnership with a community wide project. This project is called Rodger University, a summer learning camp. We ended our first day with a tour of Hy-Vee, a local grocery store. Hy-Vee’s dietitian, Jenny Fisher, is a member of the coalition. Jenny is working with us to develop healthy store tours which will help educate families using WIC, and the community at large, as to healthier options when shopping.

On the second day we started off by going to Tama, the second county in our project area. Tama County is even more rural than the already rural Marshall. Tama’s population is just over two fifths the size of Marshall. We met with the Tama County Public Health and got a good overview of Tama and its health struggles and resources. Then we visited the Settlement, the Sovereign land of the Meskwaki Tribe. The Meskwaki tribe is a member of The Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, and is the only federally recognized tribe in Iowa. Then it was back to MICA’s central office for some much needed encouragement and guidance from Anna-Maria. 

Richmond's Partnership with Code for RVA

In Partnership with Code for RVA, The Richmond City Health District, a local WIC Agency involved in Cohort 1 of the CPHMC Project, created an app and website that will serve as a food access resource guide for Richmond City residents who are looking to use their food benefits, like SNAP and WIC, as well as locate local farmers markets and summer feeding sites. Code for RVA is a Code for America volunteer brigade consisting of coders, graphic designers, user experience designers and civic leaders who partner with municipal leaders, non-profits, schools and community members with the goal of using data and technology to better serve their city.

In addition to helping users locate nearby stores that accept food benefits, the app and website will also display each store’s ability to complete a MyPlate. Users will be able to search for stores that complete each distinct section of the MyPlate (fruit, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy). For example, a user may choose to search for a store in their zip code that offers healthy grain and vegetable options, in addition to accepting WIC benefits. Presently, volunteers are surveying over 200 SNAP vendors to determine their MyPlate eligibility. The app and website are scheduled for release this month. For more information, please contact Glencora Gudger at or Quinney Harris at

ACOG ‘s CPHMC Pre-Conference Highlights

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has actively worked in collaboration with the National WIC Association (NWA) on various project activities related to the CDC-funded Community Partnerships for Healthy Mothers and Children Project (CPHMC), which is now in its second year. More recently, ACOG has worked with NWA on the CPHMC Pre-Conference workshop for CPHMC’s Cohort 2 that took place on May 21st in Cincinnati, Ohio as part of NWA’s Annual Education and Networking Conference. At the Pre-Conference workshop, staff members representing the 15 local WIC agencies in Cohort 2, who are being funded through this project to implement community-level public health interventions, were given the opportunity to learn more about the project and get to know NWA/ACOG staff, as well as interact with the other local agencies involved in the project. 

Being involved with the project and the conference allowed for ACOG staff to create a relationship with the incoming Cohort, whose projects just began in February 2016, and provide guidance and insight. Assisting with the facilitation of discussions and leading sessions was a great opportunity to help Cohort 2 agencies expand on their objectives and gain more knowledge regarding the project and the outcomes. 

ACOG program manager, Anna-Maria Roaché looking forward to meeting with CPHMC's second cohort at their Pre-Conference in Cincinnati, OH.

ACOG program manager, Anna-Maria Roaché looking forward to meeting with CPHMC's second cohort at their Pre-Conference in Cincinnati, OH.

One important aspect of the workshop was the involvement of not only members of Cohort 2, but also some members of Cohort 1, whose projects began in January 2015 and wrapped up in March 2016. As the discussions were taking place, it was great to see ideas flowing between peers and also members of Cohort 1. 

Leading the physical activity sessions also incorporated fun into the mix and allowed for the WIC agencies to be active and have fun with NWA and ACOG. There was an incredible amount of enthusiasm from Cohort 2 to learn and take ideas from the conference back home with them. Throughout the conference, people shared that they were eager and ready to get back home and start working! 

The day after the Pre-Conference workshop, on Sunday, May 21st, an award ceremony and poster session showcased the work of CPHMC Cohort 1 agencies and recognized their achievements and successes. Having worked with NWA on Cohort 1 as well, it was such a rewarding experience for the ACOG team to see previous agencies and how far they have come. It was a great honor to present them with their awards and showcase all the amazing work they have done to the incoming group. ACOG is very excited to see what the new round of local WIC agencies has to offer and looks forward to attending more conferences in the future!