When you’re living in babyland, or preparing for the little one to arrive, the world outside can turn into a blur...and sometimes disappear from your consciousness altogether. You trade in your newspapers for baby books, and bookmark Babycenter instead of CNN. But if there was ever a reason to snap back to attention, the government shutdown was it, especially since there were critical programs affecting mamas and babies that could have lost funding in the coming weeks.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (known as WIC) is one such program, and without it, nearly half a million low-income women, infants and children across New York wouldn’t get food vouchers for baby formula and healthy food, or breastfeeding support and nutrition classes.
Even if the government gets back to work sooner rather than later (UPDATE: As of Oct. 17, it has!), there are always mamas and babies in need. So sign out of your registry and pick up your pocketbook -- it’s time to buy a present for someone else’s baby.
Here’s a few ways you can support your fellow moms and moms-to-be….and set a good example for that little baby of yours, even if he’s still inside.
A lot of us know Jessica Seinfeld’s Baby Buggy as the place to donate gently used clothes and gear. But the nonprofit also collects baby food and formula, and distributes it to more than 50 community based organizations. Founded in NYC in 2001, Baby Buggy is now national, and supports thousands of families in domestic violence shelters, and anti-poverty, fatherhood and educational programs. You can drop off baby food and formula (that won’t expire for at least three months) at the Baby Buggy offices in midtown, or donate online. 306 W. 37th St., 8th Flr. babybuggy.org
Food Bank for New York City
One of the largest food banks in the U.S., Food Bank for New York City’s signature orange has never been more stylish. Get together a group of able-bodied (even if they’re pregnant-bodied) ladies for a food drive, and Food Bank for New York City will pick up your bounty, as long as it’s 100 lbs. or more. Food and products -- including diapers, baby formula and other baby goods -- go to a network of 1,000 community based organizations throughout the five boroughs. Although the organization does not accept individual donations, a few dollars can go a long way: for every $1 donated, Food Bank can help provide 5 meals, so think of how that translates for the littlest people. To organize a food drive, contact Lee Cheney at 212-566-7855, ext. 2250, or donate online. foodbanknyc.org
The City Harvest trucks are as much of an institution on NYC streets as taxis, but they’re doing a whole lot more good. The organization helps feed the more than 1 million hungry New Yorkers by collecting millions of pounds of excess food from the food industry, and delivering it to 400 community food programs free of charge. City Harvest’s annual holiday food drive runs from October 24 to January 10, when donations -- including baby food and formula -- are accepted at any NYPD or FDNY location, as well as at Modell’s stores. If you want to donate food and formula immediately, or keep on donating after the holidays (you go, girl!), organize a food drive and City Harvest will pick up 100 lbs. or more. You can also donate online. cityharvest.org
Local Food Pantries
There are tons of food pantries and family shelters across New York City, and most would be happy to see your lovely face (and receive your generous donation). Your neighborhood listserv is a great way to find recommendations of where you can do some good, or rally others for a food drive. There’s also state-specific information on locations accepting baby food and formula donations at The Feminist Hulk.