NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health, Morrisania on February 7, 2024 announced its Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program received the prestigious USDA Gold Breastfeeding Award of Excellence 2023 for providing exemplary breastfeeding promotion and support to WIC families. This is a four-year award and marks the third time the Gotham Health, Morrisania WIC team has received this award. It is well documented that WIC program participation improves birth outcomes, increases breastfeeding rates, reduces childhood obesity, as well as improving a variety of other health indicators. WIC is a federally funded, state-run program that focuses on the nutritional well-being of pregnant, breastfeeding, and post-partum individuals and children up to age five. The WIC program provides participant-centered nutrition counseling, chest/breastfeeding promotion, protection and support and specific nutritious foods to this at-risk population. WIC also serves as a vital liaison between participants and a host of services, linking families to social and health resources, including healthcare and dental services, child care assistance programs, wellness programs, food pantries, food delivery services, smoking cessation and substance use treatment, prenatal or pediatric care, postpartum and mental health care and pharmacies. WIC serves as a gateway to primary and preventive care.
“This prestigious award reiterates Gotham Health, Morrisania’s ongoing commitment to improve maternal and child health in the Bronx,” said Michelle Lewis, CEO of NYC Health+ Hospitals/Gotham Health. “I applaud the staff for their collective efforts in achieving this award and prioritizing breastfeeding through a high standard for patient care and education.”
“Congratulations to our WIC team for being selected for the USDA Gold Breastfeeding Award of Excellence,” said NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health Regional Medical Director, Bronx Jeremy O’Connor, MD. “This achievement is the result of the dedicated efforts of our WIC team in supporting families to achieve their breastfeeding goals from prenatal stages through delivery and beyond.”
Breastfeeding, as the first food, is at the core of everything the Morrisania WIC program does. Morrisania WIC highlights these features to achieve successful breastfeeding:
- Provision of comprehensive skilled lactation services to WIC families within the framework of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) is an integral component of prenatal, post-partum and infant care at Gotham Health and Morrisania WIC.
- Professional and para-professional staff including 3 International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants, as well as Certified Lactation Counselors, Registered Dietitians, and Nutritionists.
- A comprehensive training program to ensure that all WIC staff members possess the expertise in lactation management and counseling skills;
- A well-established, well-trained team of Breastfeeding Peer Counselors who reflect the language and culture of the community and who provide the support needed by chest/breastfeeding families.
- Promotes the normalization of chest/breastfeeding.
“Chest/breastfeeding saves lives. Not only in developing nations, but right here in the Bronx! Breastfeeding is one public health strategy that has been shown to have the biggest impact on maternal and infant health, with the largest return on even modest investments,” said NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health, Morrisania WIC Program Director Theresa Landau. “I am so proud of the individualized, quality care that our WIC Program staff provide to our families to help them succeed in their breastfeeding journey.”