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Is WIC impacted by the government shutdown?

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The government shutdown could make it harder for millions of women and children to get the health care they need.

That’s because one of the assistance programs most vulnerable to a government shutdown is one that provides supplemental nutrition for pregnant mothers and young children.

Known as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, the program is designed to provide low-income pregnant women, new mothers and children up to the age of five with additional healthy food in an effort to stave off adverse health effects, learning disabilities and other complications stemming from premature births or childhood malnourishment.

“No additional federal funds would be available,” to continue the program in the event of a shutdown, the United States Department of Agriculture, which runs WIC, said on its website. “States may have some funds available … to continue operations for a week or so, but states would likely be unable to sustain operations for a longer period.”

There are just under nine million women and children on the program, according to USDA. The average monthly benefit is about $45.

That often comes on top of about $135 a month in food stamp benefits. WIC benefits mandate the money can only be spent on an approved list of healthy foods.

Suspending the program is a terrible idea, said Rev. Douglas Greenaway, head of the National WIC Association, which represents the regional offices that administer the programs.

While a suspension would only be temporary, it would send the wrong message to mothers, and perhaps convincing some that it’s not worth signing up for, he said.

Greenaway said the program actually saves taxpayers money.

It costs $20,000 per pound to bring a premature child up to normal weight, he said. All told, for every $1 spent the program saves $4.21 in medical costs, he said.

And that’s not even counting the long-term benefits. Children who receive WIC supplements are better prepared to enter school than those from similar socioeconomic backgrounds not in the program, he said.

“We have members of Congress who don’t think the government should be in this business, whose ideology is to shrink the size of the federal government,” said Greenaway. “But there are huge human and health care costs for failing to fund a program like this.”

™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.


  • Annonymous

    How does this impact current vouchers? People will be unable to get new ones? Will current ones work?

  • patrick

    I think the president is a clown he is making our country look Like a joke. How bad does this look to foreign country’s that our government shut down cause of our so called leader has the USA in so much turmoil. We the people need to take our country back if the government can’t take control of the situation and get the president under control and out of office and seems like its the perfect time to take a stand while Obama has the USA in such distress.

  • Tiffany

    yes, I would like to know what this means for the current vouchers we have. If they would still work, and the farmers market ones we get too.

    • mika

      I hear that it depends on where u live and the funding available. Someplaces might end up not accepting the vouchers if funding is running out. That’s what i read.

    • Tierra

      This is the most ignorant thing I have read all day. If you have no questions in regards to this matter then shut up. You obviously don’t even know what the program is. It helps working mothers as well as non working mothers. Being a mother is a job within itself. Most importantly it helps premature & malnourished babies that were born from most likely a complicated pregnancy. So now that I have put you up to speed, you can tape your lips closed Ornette!

  • GWL

    Anyone with questions should ask WIC and local officials.

    Ornette Coleman, you should do your research on WIC so you can realize most people who benefit from it DO work as the program is focused on keeping mothers and children HEALTHY, not getting them free food (which it isn’t). Maybe if your parents benefited from WIC when you were born you would have grown to be a more productive member of society.

  • Kota

    Ornette if you do not know what you are talking about, which obviously you don’t, keep your mouth closed. I have a job and I’m on wic. So before you open you mouth make sure you don’t sound like a complete idiot. Rude asshole.

  • Danielle

    My husband and I both work full time jobs. my children are on WIC. my daughter is autistic. do your research. people need to stop spreading ignorance, maybe it they did we wouldn’t be in this position.

Comments are closed.