New WIC center to help families in Ridgewood

A new state-of-the art facility will provide low-income and immigrant families with access to healthy foods, breastfeeding support and education around healthy parenting and pregnancies.

The facility, located at the corner of Madison Street and Myrtle Avenue, is run by Public Health Services, the state’s largest provider of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

Previously, families utilizing WIC were served by a center on Onderdonk Avenue, but the approximately 1,700 clients outgrew the space.

“Unfortunately, we were not in the friendliest and most welcome site,” said Zach Hennessey, vice president of Programs and Services for Public Health Solutions. “We have created here an environment that is empowering, welcoming, spacious and bright.”

According to Hennessey, woman who participate in WIC have healthier pregnancies. Their children go on to have better diets, lower risk of childhood obesity, and regular source of medical care.

The facility will also offer mothers and their children access to health insurance enrollment and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), all co-located at the same address.

Public Health Solutions CEO Lisa David explained that in addition to helping families access healthy foods, they will also offer a full range of healthcare education on topics like childhood diabetes and when to take a kid to the dentist.

“There’s educational components to this,” she explained. “It not only helps reduce the risk of childhood obesity, it really helps coalesce the family.”

“We had a very small space before so this will allow us to truly expand the number of people we can serve,” she added.

With the Trump administration looking to cut WIC funding by $200 million, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez said the federal government needs to see the center as an investment in the longterm health of the community.

“This is what we call human capital,” she said. “The money that we invest is well spent.”