It’s almost Semana de La Lactancia Latina (September 5- 11)! New this year to National Breastfeeding Month, we celebrate Latina/x families and raise awareness about infant feeding barriers specific to Latin communities.
Residents and visitors of Southwest Kansas have the delight of enjoying the efforts of the Lactancia Latina en el Suroeste de Kansas, an organization formed in late 2018 with the nurturing of the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition and Ford County Breastfeeding Coalition.
This week, with the help of Carmen Valverde, CLC, Local Coordinator at the Lactancia Latina en el Suroeste de Kansas and 2022 USBC Cultural Changemaker Awardee, we highlight the organization’s projects in honor of Semana de La Lactancia Latina.
At the age of seven, Valverde was an immigrant to the United States. Her passion to help the Latin community comes from not having the support she needed while raising her young children.
“I totally relate to the struggles the families in Southwestern Kansas face,” Valverde comments.
In partnership with Vigness Welding, NACCHO, UnitedHealthCare, Western Kansas Community Foundation, the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition, and the City of Dodge City, Lactancia Latina en el Suroeste de Kansas coordinated the placement of several lactation benches throughout the Southwest communities.
The first bench was placed in Garden City because they have the largest zoo in the rural region. Each bench has a QR code with the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition directory so that families can find the support they need based on their zip code, Valverde explains.
Additionally, billboards were installed in high traffic areas. The billboards have information about where to find infant feeding support on social media and information about lactation in the workplace.
Alongside breastfeeding, soccer is Valverde’s other passion; Lactancia Latina en el Suroeste de Kansas is a proud sponsor of the Dodge City Toros and Atletico Liberal. Sponsorship was made possible by HealthConnect One.
Valverde has made it a point not to “reinvent the wheel” in the coalition’s efforts to support breastfeeding and become more visible.
“… I like to work and partner with other organizations and events so that we can both have the best outcome,” Valverde begins. “It just works out better that way… So far the public has received it very well. We’ve had more moms… get involved with our local coalitions as a result of it and the [local] newspaper has done a piece on [the sponsorship].”
During one of the most trying times during the pandemic, the coalition was able to accomplish the recording of a PSA with a local meat packing plant in Dodge City. Valverde says the plant, Cargill, does a marvelous job investing in their employees. Watch the video here.
Lactancia Latina en el Suroeste de Kansas provided scholarships to an all-Spanish breastfeeding training made possible through a NACCHO grant and partnership with Lactation Education Resources’s certified breastfeeding specialist training. Valverde reports that the coalition is currently planning an in-person skills day training so that the online training material can be reinforced.
You can learn more about these projects and Lactancia Latina en el Suroeste de Kansas’s future endeavors on Facebook.