A portion of the former Nojaim’s Grocery Store on Syracuse’s West Side will now serve pregnant mothers who qualify for nutritious foods before and after their children are born. Onondaga County’s WIC program has been in operation since 1974.
Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta says nutrition and education lead to the empowerment to make healthy choices.
"What the stores do that participate in the WIC program, they provide healthy options for our participants," said Gupta. "Which really makes a big difference because a lot of times we know that healthy foods are expensive. For all those who take advantage of the WIC Program, it really makes a big difference."
Gupta says the program has proven to reduce infant deaths and the number of malnourished newborns. Mayor Ben Walsh recalls first hearing about the program when he was a grocery store clerk.
"And that's when I first learned about the WIC program," said Walsh. "I remember thinking even at that young age what an important program that was to taking care of the basic needs of women and their young children."
Officials say the location was perfect to reach residents in the city with services administered by the County. Executive Ryan McMahon says it’s also instrumental to their goals.
"The messaging is consitent with what we're trying to do in county government," said McMahon. "What our city is trying to do with the poverty strategy. By bringing the services to the communities that need them the most, so that they can create ladders for a better and brighter future."
The WIC site can also connect mothers to prenatal care as well as other social service programs they may qualify for. An emphasis on healthier babies through breast feeding is stressed at the facility, and breastfeeding can allow parents to utilize WIC until their child turns five. Fathers can also qualify for WIC benefits. The newest WIC location is at 307 Gifford Street in Syracuse. For more information call (315) 435-3304. They also have locations on North Salina Street at Assumption Church, Camillus, LaFayette, Liverpool and at Onondaga Nation.