South Carolina WIC peer counselors help families through COVID and beyond

Julia-Lorraine Mercedez Moore, a WIC peer counselor in Pickens County, S.C.,  breastfed her first son for two months.

“I didn’t get much help with it,” she says. “I didn’t know what I was doing.” 

Once she had her second child, she received help from a WIC breastfeeding peer counselor and went on to breastfeed her daughter for two years. 

When her third baby came along, they breastfed until his third birthday. 

“We had so much milk that we were able to donate over 9,000 ounces of breastmilk to adopted babies!” she exclaims. 

Moore’s journey isn’t just about the numbers though.

“I decided to breastfeed because I wanted to provide for my children in a way only a mother can, and I knew the benefits of breastfeeding,” she explains. “Breastfeeding is important to me because of the… bonds I have with all three of my children, and also once I learned the facts about breastfeeding, I just felt the need to try it…” 

“I do praise moms who breastfeed but also moms who formula feed because breastfeeding isn’t always easy, and because I support moms who make their decisions based on their families,” Moore continues. 

Moore has been practicing as a WIC peer counselor for just over two years and recently completed the online Lactation Counselor Training Course (LCTC)

“I have wanted to become a CLC since I had my first child,” Moore says.  “ [The training] was a good experience and I recommend the class to anyone.” 

Moore says she’ll use the knowledge she gained through the course to continue to support the families she works with through WIC. 

Like the rest of the country, Moore and her colleagues have had to adapt to safely serve their families through COVID. Most notably, Moore explains, was shifting their breastfeeding education classes to a virtual format which she says is not ideal. 

Even so, she says, “I love my career and I will continue and strive to do my best to help other mothers.”

Across South Carolina, WIC teams are using video and phone services to reach families under  South Carolina WIC Director Berry Kelly’s implementation of “remote services for WIC families with the support of his team and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) waiver authority granted through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.” [

Teams have also started to expand their outreach like hosting drive-thru baby showers and presentations on breastfeeding while families remain in their vehicles.  

Overall, families have expressed appreciation for the remote services offered. 

South Carolina has seen close to a two percent increase in breastfeeding rates since November. 

WIC in the news: 

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From USBC: The U.S. Department of Agriculture released the “WIC Breastfeeding Check-In” reference tool. The tool includes information for WIC agencies on common concerns among breastfeeding women. It also highlights information tailored to four stages of breastfeeding: learn, start, overcome, and thrive.

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