August, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded Clay County Health Department with the 2020 Gold Premiere Loving Support Award of Excellence for exemplary efforts in supporting breastfeeding WIC mothers. This award as well as the Loving Support of Excellence awards were part of USDA’s National WIC Breastfeeding Week, celebrated August 2-8.

"WIC serves millions of low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women and their young children," said Cheryl Kennedy, Food and Nutrition Service Regional Administrator. "We recognize the hard work and effort that occurs at the State and local levels to provide this important benefit to all WIC participants, and the Loving Support Awards of Excellence celebrates local agencies that provide exemplary breastfeeding programs and support services."

The Clay County Health Department was one of 12 agencies nationally to be awarded the Gold Premiere Loving Support of Excellence Award. Those applying for this award must have been a previous Gold Awardee and identify exemplary practices deserving of the highest recognition of excellence. Performance criteria must show either the rate of exclusively breastfed infants is at least 15 % or higher in the previous year, and the most recently published year of data shows an increase over the previous year OR - the rate of exclusively breastfed infants is at least 25 % or higher in the most recently published year of data.

Clay County Health Department is Illinois first Gold Premiere recipient!

The Clay County Health Department’s Breastfeeding Support Team consists of: Breastfeeding Expert – Lyn Waller, RN, CLC; Public Health Nurses – Miriam Young, BSN, CLC and Stacey Duffy, RN, CLC; Breastfeeding Coordinator – Doris Lusk, CLC and Breastfeeding Peer Counselor – Noel Whitehead. The Clay County Health Department offers breastfeeding education, consultation and assessment as well as serves as a breast pump distribution site. The health department also serves as a Milk Depot for the Milk Bank in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Loving Support of Excellence award programs were established to recognize local WIC agencies that have provided exemplary breastfeeding promotion and support activities. The intent is to highlight successful models and motivate other local agencies to strengthen their breastfeeding promotion and support activities and ultimately increase breastfeeding initiation and duration rates among WIC participants. Awards are given at three levels of performance: Gold, Gold Premiere, and Gold Elite.

The WIC Program serves to safeguard the health of low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating including breastfeeding promotion and support, and referrals to health care. More information about the WIC program can be found at

USDA Food and Nutrition Service

Mountain Plains Region

1244 Speer Blvd., Denver, CO 80204


In addition to WIC, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services administers several other programs including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), National School Lunch Program (NSLP), and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), which together comprise America's nutrition safety net. For more information, visit