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Wellmark Foundation grant funds breastfeeding initiative

Grant, chosen from 150 requests, aims to boost breastfeeding among new mothers

January 24, 2011

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(Des Moines, Iowa) – The Wellmark Foundation awarded a $25,000 two-year grant to the Mitchell Area Charitable Foundation in Mitchell, S.D. to implement a wellness and prevention program focused on increasing breastfeeding among new mothers.

The Wellmark Foundation is a non-profit foundation that seeks to improve the health of Iowans, South Dakotans, and their communities. The Foundation provides support to non-profit and public entities to help local communities establish or expand health initiatives. Through its 2010 Healthy Communities Grant Program, the Foundation received nearly 150 grant requests. This grant award represents one of the 17 grants competitively awarded to support projects throughout Iowa and South Dakota. Cumulatively, The Wellmark Foundation is proud to award $1,334,817 to these 17 grants to serve as catalyst funding for local health projects.

“Breastfeeding holds great promise to improve the health of young children,” says Matt McGarvey, the Foundation’s director. “The Wellmark Foundation is proud to support this community based approach to educate new mothers on the importance of breastfeeding, boost kids’ immune systems, and lower their overall health risks.”

The goal of the project is to expand breastfeeding education in the Mitchell community in order to increase the breastfeeding rate among new mothers who deliver in the area to 75 percent, and to improve the success rate so mothers will breastfeed for a longer period of time. Raising awareness on the importance of breastfeeding in the Mitchell area will create positive outcomes for breastfeeding mothers as well as their children. The long-term results of increased breastfeeding education will be better health and stronger immune systems for more children, and lower health risks for more mothers.

The program will feature promotion of the new certified lactation consultant and services, including hand-on assistance and education in the hospital, as well as follow-up phone calls, newborn weight checks, and home visits in cooperation with the Avera Queen of Peace Home Health Agency after discharge. Classes, videos, community health fairs, community presentations, educational materials and gifts will be used to promote lactation consultant services to new and expecting mothers.

Project leaders will partner with community health nurses to promote breastfeeding to Women, Infants and Children (WIC) clients and provide them with educational materials as well as access to breast pumping equipment. Classes will be taught in Fort Thompson and Lower Brule twice a year to increase breastfeeding education within the Native American population in the area.

About Mitchell Area Charitable Foundation
The Mitchell Area Charitable Foundation was formed in 1985 to create a convenient and reliable means for individuals or companies to make lasting contributions to areas of need in Mitchell and the surrounding area.

For more information on the Mitchell Area Charitable Foundation, contact Jay Tolsma, (605) 996-7717 / For more information regarding the Wellmark Foundation and its grant programs, visit



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