The CinnaMoms Summit: Reimagining Black Motherhood

By Sharen Anthony, Morgan Ervin, Pina Hernandez, and Tonce Jackson

Los Angeles, CA. June 26, 2019. PHFE WIC and PHFE CinnaMoms, recognizing the need to address the alarming research indicating that African American mothers and babies are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related death than any other ethnic group in the U.S., held its yearly CinnaMoms Summit event on June 25, 2019.

In an effort to raise awareness of these risks and to equip our mothers and families with information and resources to overcome these tragedies, our Summit’s guest speaker, Dr. Kimberly Gregory, MD MPH., addressed the state of maternal health. She illustrated the staggering number of maternal deaths among African American women: three out of nine maternal deaths are African American women. According to Los Angeles County data, maternal mortality rates among black women (86/100,000) are over four times higher than rates for women overall (18/100,000). Additionally, infant mortality rates are more than twice as high among black women (10/1,000) compared to women overall (4/1,000). The health of a generation is at stake and needs immediate attention from all stakeholders such as health providers, community services providers and families in our communities.

In the CinnaMoms Summit, we created cultural spaces to promote empowerment and self-transformation for our African American women attending. Through the CinnaMoms Program, WIC families come together to share and advocate for breastfeeding, parenting, and health for the entire life course. We created support circles that extended beyond our WIC services to provide encouragement and a safe space to chat about historical feeding practices, perceptions of breastfeeding, the pregnancy journey, and the hospital experience, uniquely designed to support African American moms and families.

CinnaMoms hosted a panel discussion with Jadah Chatterjee, BS, RN, Aretha Jones-Adams, MS, Brandi Jordan, MSW, IBLCLC, Shamiesha Johnson, RN. Prenatal families were supported by a circle of support and affirmation led by Wenonah Valentine of iDream and Marquita Jones of Black Infant Health. The audience engaged in the discussion illustrating the need to continue creating more cultural environments to support our maternal health and infancy related deaths. Numerous agency services were present to offer support to these families. These families experienced a culturally appropriate event to feel the support, concerns and empathy. Other beneficial services were provided at the event such as enrollment in Medical, diapers, and farmers’ market checks for fruits and vegetables.

About PHFE WIC:  WIC is the USDA-funded Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. PHFE WIC, a program of Heluna Health, is the largest local agency WIC Program in the nation, serving approximately 200,000 participants each month in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino Counties. Currently, over 60% of all infants born in LA County receive WIC services.

About Heluna Health:  Heluna Health is a national leader in providing program and support services to optimize population health. The agency offers a full range of program development, personnel, financial and grant management support to researchers, consortia, government agencies and nonprofits. Visit

If you would like more information about the topic, please contact Tonce Jackson at (626) 221-2827.