United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, Northeast Regional Office
Article by Jane Francis, [email protected], with additional comments provided by their respective authors
USDA Presents WIC Breastfeeding Awards of Excellence
Local clinics in New York among awardees
BOSTON, Aug. 26, 2021 - In support of Breastfeeding Month, today the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) held a virtual ceremony for its 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 and 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
Oak Orchard Health WIC, Batavia
Ryan Health WIC Program, NYC
Bedford Stuyvesant Family Health Center, Brooklyn
Morris Heights Health Center WIC, Bronx
SBH Health System, Bronx
Northwell Health Staten Island University Hospital, Staten Island
“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.
Helene Rosenhouse Romeo, of Ryan’s Health Center in Manhattan, said of the award: ” We at the Ryan Health WIC program are thrilled to receive USDA’s Gold award for excellence in breastfeeding. Our dedicated team of peer-counselors, program support, nutrition and lactation experts are committed to promoting and supporting breastfeeding in our community to ensure that our moms and babies achieve the short- and long-term health benefits that breastfeeding offers.
[Below] is a photo as we gathered remotely to celebrate the news of our winning. ”
Jose Tuma, Director of the WIC program for St. Barnabas Health System in the Bronx, had this to say about the award: “The SBH WIC Program and the entire SBH Family is proud to have been awarded the 2020 Breastfeeding Award of Excellence – Gold Award by the USDA Northeast Regional Office.
“The Bronx, and specifically our NYC district, was among the hardest impacted, and unfortunately, devastated, by the COVID pandemic. During a time of fear and insecurity, The SBH WIC Program staff saw themselves in a unique position to be a vital lifeline to babies and mothers. Our wonderful team made an intentional effort to be there for every mom who needed guidance and assistance during unprecedented circumstances, and ironically, when physical contact was not allowed. I am proud that their hard work has been recognized and appreciated.”
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 www.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, visit www.fns.usda.gov.
Editor’s Note: We have reached out to all of the New York and New Jersey awardees for comment on this award. Several of the other awardees will be providing us with articles, that include information about programs that are available to breastfeeding moms, and these articles will be published in the coming weeks.