by Elizabeth Woods, MA, MPH Interim Executive Director
Soul Food for Your Baby, Inc.
Soul Food for Your Baby is grateful for the award of a Commissioned Officers Foundation Barclay-Giel Seed Grant. Funding allowed us to provide needed breastfeeding support to Black families and to connect with maternal health advocates during the pandemic.
With a culturally targeted approach, Soul Food for Your Baby (SFYB) exists to promote breastfeeding among Black families to foster health and well-being. Breastfeeding has been proven to mitigate health disparities that are prevalent among Blacks, including diabetes, asthma, obesity and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Unfortunately, Black infants are less likely to realize these benefits due to persistently lower breastfeeding rates compared to other groups due to a variety of factors.
Seed grant monies have allowed SFYB to reinstate breastfeeding classes and support groups in South Los Angeles with community partner the Black Infant Health Program at The Children’s Collective, Inc. Starting in January 2020, we held three monthly in-person support groups with the Black Infant Health Program before COVID hit. In April, we pivoted to online sessions when hospitals and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children were not offering such services. A positive result of the pandemic is that we were able to offer multiple short sessions online throughout the day and into evening and weekend hours. We reached a larger geographic area and supported families who were not able to attend the longer daytime sessions.
After condensing our 6.5-hour curriculum to 4.5 hours, we launched a two-session quarterly breastfeeding class in November that includes Black breastfeeding history, cultural taboos, breastfeeding as a single parent, health disparities, and prenatal care recommendations.
Though the groups and classes have been small, moms have repeatedly attended and appreciated being able to connect with other moms during this time of isolation and upheaval. We aim to partner with more prenatal clinics and programs to increase participation.
In addition to the classes and support groups, SFYB co-hosted a Breastfeeding Celebration with the Compton WIC site during Black Breastfeeding Week (BBW) in 2019, which 15 Black and Latina families attended. We engaged community members at a farmers’ market in the Crenshaw District in Fall 2019. For BBW 2020, we held a Black Breastfeeding Matters Walk in August that raised funds and awareness. We also partnered respectively with Mahmee and the African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Initiative for a Doula Meet Up in June and breastfeeding webinars during BBW and Black Maternal Health Week in April 2020.
We are indebted to COF for the funds that allowed us to carry on these activities and provide a source of connection and information for families and maternal health during a very distressing and uncertain time! We look forward to gathering in person again but will also maintain online services so that we can continue to expand our reach.
For more information about Soul Food for Your Baby, visit www.soulfood4yourbaby.org
Mothers and children attend the Breastfeeding Celebration during Black Breastfeeding Week in August 2019. Soul Food for Your Baby and the Compton WIC site co-hosted the gathering.