By Bob Balgemann


BELVIDERE – The Boone County Health Department is getting high marks from the March of Dimes and Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) for a couple of its community programs.

The March of Dimes likes the department’s program on becoming a mom so much that it’s going to be the subject of a two-to-three-minute documentary. Boone County was chosen from all of the sites in Illinois.

A film crew recently flew in from California to do a commercial on the program.

The health department’s second, six-session program, made possible by a grant, ended March 16. It dealt with such subjects as nutrition, labor and delivery, handling stress during the pregnancy and caring for the baby.

It’s a bilingual project, held during the evening with dinner provided, which culminates with a trip to SwedishAmerican birthing center, which is used by most health department clients.

A third program is slated to be conducted in July.

The health department also sponsors a Women, Infants & Children (WIC) Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) in its parking lot for a short time each summer.

The success of the 2014 program recently was saluted by IDHS as being second best in the state when it came to 58.67 percent coupon redemption rate.

Coupons are given to WIC clients of the department and they are able to use them for purchases at local farmers markets. The market sponsored by the city of Belvidere and the one at Dodge Lanes are eligible to participate in the program.

“It is evident that your staff’s efforts in working with your WIC clients, the local farmers and farmers’ markets has resulted in increased (coupon) redemption rates…,” wrote Penny Roth, chief of the Bureau of Family Nutrition for IDHS.

“Among the 36 participating WIC agencies in the program, Boone CHD (Community Health Department) was the second highest with an overall rate of 59.59 percent in redeemed FMNP checks.”

Roth commended the health department staff for their “creativity, dedication and commitment” to the summertime program.

Information about the recognition was given to the department’s overseeing board of health at its March meeting.

The good news prompted reaction from two board members.

Kathleen Taylor said how pleased she was to hear the department was being commended for the work it coes in the community.

“The staff is not sitting on their hands,” department Administrator Cynthia Frank said in response.

Another board member, Vice President Jim Cox, asked Frank to be sure she included the recognitions in her next report to the county board.

Some criticism about the way the department does business has come from a few county board members over the past 1 1/2 years.

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