Baton Rouge --- The Department of Health and Hospitals, Office of Public Health will host a reception on Friday, May 7, to honor the Mothers of the Year from its Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC).


WIC is a special program that provides supplemental nutrition for pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women and for infants and young children under age five. The program is available through local parish health units and other local health agencies. Pregnant women and parents and/or caretakers of infants and children are encouraged to call for information.

WIC recipients receive food packages that could include formula and cereal for the infants; milk, eggs, cheese, cereals (low in sugar), carrots, tuna fish, juice, beans and/or peanut butter for children and women.


To coincide with Mother’s Day, the WIC program decided to honor some women in the program who apply the nutrition principles they learn through WIC to help their families make healthy eating choices. Each LDH/OPH region throughout the state was asked to nominate a client to be named the WIC Mother of the Year from that region.


“These women are being recognized for their role in proactively seeking healthy nutrition information for their families to raise the next generation of healthy Louisianians,” said LDH/OPH Assistant Secretary Sharon Howard.


The women will be honored at a reception May 7 at the Lod Cook Alumni Center on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge. The ceremony will honor not only the mothers, but the 30-year anniversary of the WIC program in Louisiana as well. Representatives from the United States Department of Agriculture, the federal department that oversees the WIC program, the Governor’s Office and the Department of Health will attend.


The WIC Mothers of the Year are:


Region I (New Orleans) --- Monique Wilson, mother of three. Staff at the Orleans Parish Health Unit say Mrs. Wilson is always polite to staff and brightens their day. She uses the WIC information to provide nutritious meals and snacks to her children and makes sure they stay up to date on their doctors’ visits and immunizations.


Region II (Baton Rouge) --- Sarah Hardy, mother of 10. Mrs. Hardy was nominated by staff from the Pointe Coupee Parish Health Unit because she always asks questions and borrows video tapes to learn more about good nutrition. Mrs. Hardy discourages candy and junk foods as snacks for her children and encourages them to eat fruit and vegetables instead.


Region III (Thibodaux) --- Becky Taylor, mother of five. She has been a WIC participant for the past 11 years through the births of all her children. Staff at the St. John Parish Health Unit said she limits her children’s intake of sugary snacks and soft drinks and encourages them to make healthy food choices.

Region IV (Lafayette) --- Lisa Ortego, mother of four. Mrs. Ortego attends meetings with the staff at the St. Landry Parish Health Unit on a regular basis. Two of her children were born with a rare disease that requires special care and feeding. Mrs. Ortego provides excellent care to all of her children and gratefully accepts nutrition recommendations.


Region V (Lake Charles) --- Cathy Dardar, mother of four. Mrs. Dardar keeps in regular contact with the Beauregard Parish Health Unit and always calls ahead of time if she cannot make an appointment. She has been a WIC participant since her first pregnancy in 1986 and encourages nutritious snacks and physical activity to keep her children healthy.


Region VI (Alexandria) --- Sandra Delhoste, mother of one. Mrs. Delhoste kept all of her prenatal appointments at the Catahoula Parish Health Unit and made several lifestyle nutritional changes for her whole family based on information she received as a WIC participant. She also asks her husband to accompany her to the WIC appointments so he can learn more about healthy foods for their child.


Region VII (Shreveport) --- Marilyn Mangum, mother of 10. Mrs. Mangum began participating in the WIC program in Texas. When she and her husband moved their nine children to Louisiana, she became a member of the WIC program here for her last pregnancy. Mrs. Mangum home schools all of her children and helps them make healthy food choices. She also volunteers at the Caddo Parish Health Unit by speaking to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers during the clinic’s Breastfeeding Awareness Celebration Class. Mrs. Mangum breastfed all 10 children until toddler age and encourages other women to make this healthy nutrition choice for their babies.


Region VIII (Monroe) --- Deborah Fortune, mother of four. Staff at the Morehouse Parish Health Unit say all of her children are well-nourished and growing at a healthy rate. Mrs. Fortune has breastfed all of her children and is currently pregnant with her fifth child. She keeps her health unit appointments, listens attentively and asks questions.


Region IX (Mandeville) --- Rozalyn Duplantis, mother of nine. Mrs. Duplantis participates in WIC through the Livingston Parish Health Unit, where she keeps all appointments and follows the nutrition recommendations from the staff. She breastfed all nine children.


For more information about the LDH/OPH Women, Infants and Children program, call 1-800-251-BABY to locate a WIC provider in your area.