In support of Breastfeeding Month, today the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) held a virtual ceremony for its Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Breastfeeding Award of Excellence winners in the Northeast Region, including seven in New York.
“USDA established the award program to recognize local WIC agencies that have provided exemplary breastfeeding promotion and support to WIC moms,” said Lizbeth Silbermann, Northeast Regional Administrator for USDA’s Food & Nutrition Service. “The intent is to provide models to help other WIC clinics strengthen their breastfeeding programs to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration rates nationwide.”
A major goal of the WIC Program is to improve the health of babies and moms through breastfeeding; WIC serves about half of all babies born in the country and is uniquely positioned to help moms successfully breastfeed.
In New York the following WIC clinics received Gold awards:
- Catholic Charities WIC of Buffalo, Buffalo, NY;
- Oak Orchard Health WIC, Batavia, NY;
- Ryan Health WIC Program, Manhattan, NY;
- Bedford Stuyvesant Family Health Center, Brooklyn, NY;
- Morris Heights Health Center WIC, Bronx, NY;
- SBH Health System, Bronx, NY;
- Northwell Health Staten Island University Hospital, Staten Island, NY.
“Peer counselors have a unique ability to relate to participants and play a key role in providing support beyond the office when parents need it most, especially throughout the pandemic,” said Corie Nadzan, WIC Director for New York State. “These awards highlight the dedicated efforts of WIC staff to empower families to meet their breastfeeding goals beginning prenatally, through delivery and beyond. Having worked in a local agency myself, I know this is no easy feat, and I am incredibly proud of these agencies for their outstanding services.”
The award is given at three levels of performance that build on one another: Gold, Premiere, and Elite.
101 awards were handed out across the country throughout the month of August, including 16 awards presented today to clinics in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children – better known as WIC – serves to safeguard the health of low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating including breastfeeding promotion and support, and referrals to health care. More information about WIC can be found at fns.usda.gov/WIC.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) leverages its 15 nutrition assistance programs to ensure that children, low-income individuals, and families have opportunities for a better future through equitable access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food, while building a more resilient food system. Under the leadership of Secretary Tom Vilsack, FNS is fighting to end food and nutrition insecurity for all through programs such as SNAP, school meals, and WIC. FNS also provides science-based nutrition recommendations through the co-development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. To learn more, please visit fns.usda.gov.