Press Release: Healthy Start Coalition Receives $25,000 Grant from Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation to Increase Community Breastfeeding Support

smhf_logo_pms287-hHealthy Start Coalition Receives $25,000 Grant from Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation to Increase Community Breastfeeding Support

For Immediate Release: November 9, 2016


Sarasota, FL – The Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County, Inc. was recently awarded a $25,000 grant from the Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation to enhance breastfeeding support and peer counseling opportunities for new moms across Sarasota County.

The goal of this project is to improve Sarasota’s breastfeeding support network by increasing trained peer-support available throughout the county and providing healthcare professionals who interface with pregnant or postpartum women with up-to-date education about supporting breastfeeding mothers. Breastfeeding has significant proven health benefits for both mothers and babies, providing optimal nutrition for the infant, as well as preventing SIDS and illnesses such as stomach viruses, respiratory illnesses, ear infections, and lifelong chronic health conditions. Breastfeeding also has numerous benefits for the mother, including a lower risk of postpartum depression, lower postpartum blood loss, and lower risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

“We are so grateful to the Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation for recognizing this need in our community, and supporting our efforts to increase services available for breastfeeding mothers,” states Shon Ewens, Executive Director of the Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County. “This builds upon Healthy Start and Sarasota Memorial Hospitals long-standing partnership, and will truly make an impact on the health and well-being of moms and babies in our community.”

The initiative particularly focuses on reaching underserved and minority populations, building upon efforts started Spring 2016 with funding from the National Association of City and County Health Officials (NACCHO) in partnership with the Healthy Start Coalition, Sarasota Memorial Hospital, and the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County. This project aims to continue the success of this partnership, and to improve the health of mothers and babies, creating an overall healthier community.

Funding will be used to provide a 2-Day Community Health Worker style Peer Counselor Training utilizing the Loving Support Breastfeeding Peer Counselor curriculum, with a track available for Spanish-speaking Counselors. During the training, individuals learn essential skills for lactation management, methods for making referrals to local resources, and steps for leading breastfeeding support groups in their communities. This training will be scheduled for Spring 2017.

Trained Peer Counselors will be invited to host groups in their communities, with particular focus directed toward minority and underserved populations. Peer Counselors will be paid a stipend for each group hosted, and provide refreshments and incentives for group attendees. Peer Counselors will receive materials to distribute to their group attendees, with connections to local resources beyond the scope of Peer Counseling, such as Sarasota Memorial Hospitals Latch Clinic or Healthy Start’s home visitation program. This funding will also support weekly drop-in breastfeeding support groups across the county, which were initialized with NACCHO Funding. Demand has been growing for these groups, with a particular need for bilingual support.

Additionally, a Certified Breastfeeding Counselor Training will be provided to 40 healthcare providers and family support workers who interface with pregnant and postpartum mothers. Demand for this training is high, with particular interest from providers at the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County, which serves a high level of underserved, minority, and at-risk mothers.

For more information, contact: 

  • Jamee Thumm, Educational Services Manager, 941-373-7070 x 307
This entry was posted in Blog, Press Releases. Bookmark the permalink. Comments are closed, but you can leave a trackback: Trackback URL.