New York WIC Program Expands Kosher Options

kosher wic

The New York State WIC program has added more kosher certified foods to its list of accepted food products, in response to requests by Senator Simcha Felder, Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein and Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried.

New York’s WIC Nutrition Assistance Program is a lifeline to thousands of families. But until now, the number of high standard kosher certified products included in the program was minimal, limiting the choices available to the many higher-standard kosher consumers.

After receiving many complaints from constituents regarding the lack of kosher options, particularly baby food, Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein joined with Gottfried and Felder to urge the New York State Department of Health to include more and higher-standard kosher products available through the WIC Program.

On February 20th, the three legislators received an initial reply from Jill K. Dunkel, Director of Division of Nutrition at the Department of Health, indicating that WIC staff is reviewing their request to determine if these products meet DOH criteria.

Last week, WIC officially updated its list of foods now accepted, including kosher products by companies such as Kemach, First Choice and Mehadrin. Inclusion of these brands, which carry superior hechsherim, expand the choices for the kashrus-observant families that rely on WIC – particularly for baby food, a previously limited option on WIC.

“It’s great news that WIC will now cover additional higher certified kosher products, especially baby food,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried. “This was an important issue when Assembly Member Eichenstein and I first wrote to the Health Department, but it’s even more critical with more New Yorkers relying on WIC during COVID-19. Participating in WIC shouldn’t mean choosing between food and religious principles.”

“This will be a tremendous help to so many families in my district and beyond who are struggling to feed their children, especially during these difficult and uncertain times,” said Eichenstein.

“The WIC program provides vital assistance to families, ensuring proper nutrition through the early, formative years,” said Felder. “The added value will go a long way to help parents raise healthy children and keep New York families thriving.”