Site will still serve the neighborhood as a WIC office and clinic
SYRACUSE — Even though Paul Nojaim had to close his family’s supermarket location at 307 Gifford St. in September 2017, he still felt the building could help serve the neighborhood and the Near Westside.
Onondaga County’s WIC office and clinic have relocated to the former Nojaim Brothers supermarket at 307 Gifford St.
“The first discussions were literally a year ago,” says Nojaim.
WIC, which is short for women, infants and children, previously operated at 375 W. Onondaga St. in Syracuse.
WIC is leasing about 7,000 square feet in the 24,000-square-foot structure that formerly housed the Nojaim Brothers market.
Nojaim says he had heard that WIC had to move from its previous location because the building owner had to expand its space for another tenant. So, he called the office of Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh.
“We’re sitting empty here. Maybe this makes sense to have a discussion. That was the origin,” says Nojaim.
He spoke with CNYBJ following a Jan. 3 ceremony announcing WIC’s move to the new location.
When asked about the grocery store’s closure, Nojaim says he’s “fully aware” of the impact the closure has had on the neighborhood.
He says the opening of the Price Rite location on South Ave., along with “many factors” resulted in a decline in his store’s sales and profitability.
“There was nothing on the horizon that I thought would turn that around and [we] could just not afford to hemorrhage cash flow that way,” says Nojaim.
New WIC location
WIC is a program of the New York State Department of Health funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Onondaga County Health Department administers WIC under a contract with the state Health Department.
Onondaga County Executive J. Ryan McMahon, II and Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh joined Dr. Indu Gupta, Onondaga County Health Commissioner, at a Jan. 3 ceremony for the new WIC office.
In speaking about the former Nojaim Brothers market, McMahon noted that “as times change, the purposes change.”
“What better message to send to the neighborhood than we’re still going to be helping provide healthy food and healthy opportunities in this building,” he said.
In his remarks, Walsh credited Nojaim for thinking about future possibilities for the location after the store closed. “He immediately started looking for other opportunities to help the neighborhood,” said Walsh
Nojaim had called Walsh about the WIC relocation about a year ago, the Syracuse mayor recalled.
Local WIC services
Besides the new WIC clinic at 307 Gifford St., WIC clinics also operate at various locations throughout Onondaga County, per a news release about the WIC relocation that McMahon’s office issued Thursday.
WIC is available for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and children under the age of five who meet income requirements. WIC provides eWIC cards (EBT) every month to buy healthy WIC foods and provides ideas on preparing healthy meals for families. WIC can also connect families with “other health care they may need,” per the news release. Onondaga County serves more than 9,000 WIC participants.