Despite the partial government shutdown, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) will remain intact in all 50 states through October.
The program, which feeds about 9 million low-income pregnant women, babies and children up to age 4, will be funded through a combination of USDA contingency funds, rebates and money left over due to belt-tightening under sequestration.
Although WIC offices remain open, Rev. Douglass Greenaway, president of the National WIC Association, says the shutdown has already affected recipients. “WIC moms have a level of trust in the program. We’re already seeing moms not showing up for appointments because they think the offices are closed.”
And if the shutdown exceeds a month and state WIC programs run out of money Greenaway predicts serious health concerns for the pregnant women, babies and young children who rely on the food items they obtain using WIC vouchers or checks. “If the program shuts down, we’ll see pregnant women not getting adequate nutrition, placing them at risk for pre-term delivery. We’ll see breastfeeding moms not producing enough milk. And we’ll see some moms diluting infant formula or substituting cow’s milk or water for formula,” he says.
WIC serves 53 percent of infants up to age one in the United States.