North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos announced Thursday DHHS secured additional funds to continue the WIC program as of Friday October 11th.
DHHS says it can ensure the stability of the program through the end of October using lapsing funds from the previous fiscal year, additional contingency funds from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and product rebates from WIC formula manufacturer, Nestle Foods.
In response to the federal government shutdown, the issuance of WIC vouchers was suspended Tuesday because DHHS did not have sufficient funds to issue new vouchers.
"Because of the uncertainty of the federal shutdown, we know this may only be a temporary solution," said Wos. "But we are committed to meeting the needs of the people of North Carolina."
Local health departments are being notified to resume issuing WIC vouchers.
The WIC Program has an annual budget of $205 million. During September, the program provided supplemental food, health care referrals and nutrition education for almost 264,000 women, infants and young children in North Carolina.
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A state-run program that gets federal dollars to ensure proper nutrition for pregnant women and their young children won't issue any vouchers beyond those already given out for October.
Officials say the federal government shutdown is the reason that the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children stopped issuing vouchers Tuesday.
About 80 percent of eligible clients have received benefits for October. Officials with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services say they don't have enough money to issue more vouchers.
DHHS officials say families who don't get the WIC vouchers can apply for food stamps.
The WIC program provides food vouchers, nutrition education and health care referrals for 264,000 women and children monthly in North Carolina. The federal government pays the program's $200 million cost.
State officials says the WIC program will not issue any more benefits after today.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced the stoppage of benefits from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Woman, Infants and Children is due to the federal shutdown.
State officials say approximately 80 percent of those eligible in our state have already been issued food benefits for October and that federal WIC funds will cover those benefits. The problem is the federal money will not cover any additional vouchers.
The state reports: "WIC clients should keep their nutrition appointments and continue redeeming October vouchers and WIC vendors should continue normal operations to accept existing vouchers. The Department will continue to monitor the daily availability of federal funds and will announce changes if they become necessary. "
"Some of our most vulnerable citizens, pregnant and breastfeeding women, infants and young children, will be affected by the interruption of WIC services due to the federal shutdown," said DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos.
DHHS also wants families impacted by this change to apply for North Carolina's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as food stamps). Local WIC staff may also refer clients to food banks and pantries in their communities.
According to state officials, while some staff furloughs may be necessary in order to sustain essential program operations as long as possible, DHHS is working with the federal government to identify federal funding to keep local WIC clinics open. During this time, WIC staff will continue to support clients by providing nutrition education and referrals to local resources.
A release states: "The WIC Program has an annual budget of $205 million and is 100 percent federally funded. During September, the program provided supplemental food, health care referrals and nutrition education for almost 264,000 women, infants and young children in North Carolina. WIC also impacts local grocery stores and other food businesses. Every month, North Carolinians using WIC make nearly $16.6 million in food purchases at more than 2,000 food vendors around the state."
(Copyright WITN & Associated Press 2013.)