Since inception, MHM has provided nearly $500 million in healthcare services through our clinics and programs, as well as through our partnerships. MHM is proud to partner with organizations that share our mission and organizational objective of delivering healthcare and social services to the least served in the South Texas region. By strengthening other organizations' capacity to provide services, we achieve our overarching goal of increasing access to care.
Joining our family of partners in 2003, the Infant & Family Nutrition Agency (IFNA) holds a common mission of providing healthcare services to the underserved. Located in Brownsville, Texas at the First United Methodist Church, IFNA provides children in Cameron County a chance for a healthier start in life by equipping their mothers with the most current information about prenatal and postnatal nutrition and health, and family nutrition. “It starts with parents. It starts with babies,” explains Renee Garcia, INFA director.
The roots of IFNA date back to 1984 when a generous donation from a patron of the First United Methodist Church in Brownsville helped to form a ministry to aid women who lacked information and resources necessary to care for themselves and their children. This ministry, known as the Infant Nutrition Program, later became a registered nonprofit entity in 2001 and was renamed the Infant & Family Nutrition Agency.
Currently, IFNA provides three distinct programs to residents in the area: Prenatal & Postnatal Education, Family Nutrition, and Stork’s Nest. Employing a breastfeeding instructor and nutritionist, free Prenatal & Postnatal Education and Family Nutrition classes are provided for mothers to learn about health and nutrition, breastfeeding, infant nutrition and childcare. Classes are offered at various community sites convenient for the women served.
The Stork’s Nest Program also provides free education for mothers with breastfeeding concerns by offering a nursing station for women to nurse their babies under the guidance of a trained Breastfeeding Instructor. A variety of techniques are presented to encourage successful breastfeeding. Through education, women learn the importance of breast milk in the development of the human immune system along with its benefits to the mother. Additionally, mothers can purchase or rent breast pumps through the Stork’s Nest.
Given the area’s high rate of diabetes and obesity, among a largely low-income population, these programs are crucial to members of the community. Cameron County retains a high rate of women who receive little to no prenatal care. This, in turn, has an adverse affect on the newest citizens of the community. IFNA aims at equipping women with the knowledge and resources necessary to care for themselves and their babies.
In 2010, IFNA witnessed over 3,000 client encounters. These encounters are projected to more than double for 2012. To date, MHM has provided $180,000 in funding to support IFNA programming.
To learn more about IFNA, call (956) 541-9250.