The federal government shutdown may hurt the 7,100 babies, children and expectant mothers enrolled in the Women, Infant and Children nutrition program in Wyandotte County.
According to Nancy Sanchez, WIC program coordinator in Wyandotte County, checks are going out now for October payments, but yesterday, the state of Kansas announced a delay for November and December payments.
“We serve over 7,100 women, infants and children,” Sanchez said. “It’s a big impact. It also impacts grocery stores.”
Expectant mothers, babies and children enrolled in WIC are eligible to receive checks that are good for specific foods in the nutrition program, Sanchez said.
Usually, checks are given out for three months at a time, Sanchez said. Currently, the WIC program here is giving out October checks now and asking the enrollees to come back in November for the November and December checks, hoping that the shutdown is over by then.
She said the state has enough funds in the program to last until Oct. 31.
“We hope that gives Congress enough time to vote for funding for FY 2014,” she said.
This program is very important, according to Sanchez.
“We’re talking about pregnant moms and moms with kids up to the age of 5, including newborns who are just starting out and need the highest amount of nutritious foods,” she said.
She said the WIC funds can be used only for the specific nutritious foods that were approved for each individual by consulting with a registered dietitian. Typically that would include foods such as cereal, eggs, cheese, milk, juice and other healthy foods.
On Oct. 9, according to a news release from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, local WIC offices were ordered by the state of Kansas to issue only WIC checks for October, and to withhold November and December checks until further notice.
According to the news release, KDHE is not able to guarantee its backing of grocery purchases made with checks dated November and December because it cannot predict the end of the federal government shutdown.
“KDHE will keep authorized WIC grocery stores informed regarding the current situation including specific instructions if restrictions are placed on the redemption of WIC checks,” the news release stated.