The North Country Family Health Center’s WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) Program is hosting its Big Latch On event virtually this year. The event, scheduled for Friday, July 31st, will be held as a “selfie campaign” – breastfeeding mothers are encouraged to take a photo of themselves breastfeeding, or expressing, and to share it on the WIC’s Peer Counselor’s Facebook page, North Country Breastfeeding Peer Counselors, with the hashtag #mybiglatchon2020, throughout the day on Friday, July 31st. This year’s Big Latch On kicks off World Breastfeeding Week, August 1 – August 7, 2020.
World Breastfeeding Week is held the first week of August each year and is celebrated around the world. The week is coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA). The WABA is a global network of individuals and organizations concerned with the protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding worldwide. This year is the 28th celebration for WABA. The Global Big Latch On is recognized in over 30 countries. Last year, over 22,000 infants were breastfed during the same one minute all around the world. “Our Big Latch On event has been so popular in the community we did not want to have to cancel this year due to the pandemic, so staff came up with the idea of a “virtual” event. The goal of the event is always to support, encourage, and promote breastfeeding,” states Angel Carter, WIC Director. “Under our unusual circumstances this year it is even more important to support new moms and dads who are home with a newborn and maybe experiencing many “firsts” as new parents. We have been able to provide weekly virtual support groups and our Peer Counselors are also providing video chat support and consultations too.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months after birth. After the first 6 months and until the infant is 1-year-old, the AAP recommends that the mother continue breastfeeding while gradually introducing solid foods into the infant’s diet. After 1 year, breastfeeding can be continued if mutually desired by the mother and her infant. There are numerous benefits of breastfeeding – both for baby, and for moms. “We are very proud of our WIC staff for adapting to the challenges of the Pandemic,” states Kit Veley, FNP, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. “It is even more important during a time like this to reiterate the benefits of breastfeeding – not only for the newborn, but for the mother as well. Breastfeeding can be done safely and easily anywhere, but during the pandemic its more than helpful to breastfeed as new parents don’t have to go to a store to get formula. Breast-milk helps keep your baby healthy and supplies all the necessary nutrients in the proper proportions,” continued Veley.
North Country Family Health Center’s WIC Program not only provides benefits for nutritious foods to women, infants, and children, but also provides breastfeeding support and education. WIC offers Certified Lactation Counselors and Peer Counselors to all WIC moms to help them reach their breastfeeding goals.
WIC staff have coordinated, and will be hosting, virtual giveaways throughout the day on Friday, July 31st. For more information on WIC’s breastfeeding support program, or the Big Latch On event, please call the main WIC office at 315-782-9222, Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.; you may also visit WIC’s North Country Breastfeeding Peer Counselors Facebook page for the latest updates. Due to COVID-19, all face to face WIC appointments have been suspended and ONLY phone appointments are being conducted at this time. Participants benefits will remain active with phone appointments. WIC staff would like to thank MVP Health Care for their sponsorship this year.
Effective Wednesday, June 3rd all three community-based dental sites — Watertown, LeRay, and Lowville – will begin seeing preventative and non-emergency patients. The sites had previously only been able to treat emergency dental cases during the initial pandemic weeks. We are thrilled to have all our dental staff back onsite!
If you missed an appointment due to the pandemic please call any one of our offices to reschedule:
Watertown, New York — North Country Family Health Center’s (NCFHC) Women, Infants, and Children’s (WIC) Program is educating both current and new participants on the recently expanded New York State’s eligible foods for those who qualify for the WIC Program. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a federally funded Program to provide nutrition benefits and education to at-risk pregnant and postpartum women, infants, and children up to age 5. The Program is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. NCFHC’s WIC Program offers services to families in Jefferson and Lewis Counties.
NCFHC’s WIC Program provides four core services to participants: nutrition education; breastfeeding support and promotion; healthy food packages; and referrals to health and social services in the area. The healthy foods element of WIC may be one of the more well-known assets to the Program. Participants who qualify for WIC (those whose income is equal to or less than 185% of the federal poverty level) have traditionally been able to redeem their monthly WIC benefits at local grocery stores for specific nutritious items such as whole-wheat bread, beans, eggs, milk, cheese, and infant formula.
In the fall of 2018, NCFHC’s WIC Program joined other New York State WIC Programs and instituted a new electronic benefits transfer card called “eWIC” – an easier way to obtain healthy WIC foods. An eWIC card is similar to a debit card and it allows participants to buy WIC-approved foods and tracks purchases throughout the month. eWIC shoppers report that their shopping experience is much more discreet and personalized to their shopping preferences. After the implementation of the eWIC card the next step was to expand the list of approved eWIC food items in New York State – both in brands that are approved as well as additional approved food items. “The foods list enhancement couldn’t have come at a better time. There are so many healthy options for breads, cereals, yogurts, and baby foods in today’s market, so adding more of these options to the WIC Acceptable Foods List is incredible, especially during this unfortunate time when food and supplies have been limited,” comments Angel Carter, WIC Director, NCFHC. “The list has grown to include more name brand cold and hot cereals; baby fruits and vegetables; juices; yogurts; and whole grains.
Participants will find it easier to fill their carts during the pandemic with the expansion of the approved foods.” The list of additional foods, and how to apply for WIC may be found at https://www.wicstrong.com/agency/north-country/.
NCFHC operates three permanent WIC sites in Jefferson and Lewis Counties – the first at 238 Arsenal Street, Watertown; the second at 26908 Independence Way, Evans Mills (located at the main gate of Fort Drum); and the third at the Lewis County General Hospital, 7785 North State Street, Lowville. Additionally, WIC operates temporary sites in Theresa, Clayton, Adams, and West Carthage. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, all face to face WIC appointments have been suspended and phone appointments ONLY are being conducted with participants. Current and new participants may call 315.782.9222, Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. with questions or concerns.
“As an essential healthcare provider in the community, we continue to remain committed to being available to our WIC participants,” comments Joey Marie Horton, Chief Executive Officer, North Country Family Health Center. “During this unprecedented time we are grateful that WIC participants will now have more choices when shopping. In addition, we are pleased to be able to provide telephone appointments to ensure WIC families can stay safely at home and still receive their benefits.”
Patients may visit NCFHC’s COVID-19 page for the most up to date hours of operation and special notices during this pandemic: https://www.nocofamilyhealth.org/covid-19/. NCFHC’s WIC Program also has a very active Facebook following at WIC of NNY https://www.facebook.com/JeffersonCountyWIC.
North Country Family Health Center is a Federally Qualified Health Center that provides high-quality, affordable healthcare to over 13,000 North Country residents annually at its four community-based locations in Watertown, Lowville, and Evans Mills, and within its school-based locations. NCFHC also provides nutritious food vouchers and other support to approximately 5,000 pregnant women, infants, and children each month through its WIC Program; assists approximately 4,000 individuals with insurance enrollment annually; and provides special initiatives to help high-risk pregnant and parenting families and individuals who experience insecure housing. For more information about North Country Family Health Center or its programs, visit www.NoCoFamilyHealth.org or call (315) 782-9450.