National WIC Association

Statement on Progress Towards the Gold Standard

The following statement was made September 10, 2016, at NWA's Nutrition Education & Breastfeeding Promotion Conference in Denver, Colorado, by its then board of directors chair, Donna Bister. For more information, see our press release and FAQs.

The theme we chose for our 2008 Nutrition & Breastfeeding Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, was “Racing for the Gold Standard.” That conference set in motion what would become significant initiatives to promote and support breastfeeding as the “Gold Standard” for infant feeding and motivated us to race together, if I may use an Olympic metaphor, for the “gold.”

As far back as 2004, we began taking steps to prohibit infant formula manufacturers from exhibiting, sponsoring, or promoting formula at NWA Nutrition & Breastfeeding Conferences. In 2008, we fully implemented that prohibition and have stood true to that commitment ever since.

In 2010, at our Nutrition & Breastfeeding Conference in San Diego, California, we released our NWA Breastfeeding Strategic Plan which included four important goals:

In every year since, we have taken important steps to help make WIC the Nation’s Go-To-Breastfeeding Program and to meet the objectives of that Plan including:

In 2012, we began work towards rebranding WIC from the Go-To-Formula Program to the nation’s Premier Go-To-Breastfeeding Program. This is on-going effort as we consider strategies and methods for WIC to seek reimbursement for breastfeeding services and to serve non-income eligible mothers who wish to receive WIC’s quality breastfeeding education, counseling, and support on a fee-for-service basis.

We are proud of our progress towards reaching the “Gold Standard.”

That is why I am excited today to announce our latest effort to reach the “Standard.” In 2015, the NWA Voting Members approved a resolution, reaffirmed at the 2016 Annual Business Meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio, that dissolves relationships between the National WIC Association (NWA) and infant formula manufacturers. Beginning in this calendar year, NWA will no longer invite infant formula manufacturers to be members, exhibitors at conferences, advertisers or sponsors of events and activities.

Here are the reasons why NWA has taken this action:

We recognize that this action is not without some controversy. Accordingly, NWA is taking steps to assure that adequate and readily accessible sources of WHO Code compliant information on infant formula products are available for NWA members through our education and training programs.

We hope that you will join the NWA Board of Directors, Staff, and Voting Members in supporting this decision and help NWA and WIC to reach the Gold Standard and make WIC the nation’s Premier Go-To-Breastfeeding Program.