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As Federal Shutdown Continues, DHHS Releases Additional Information on WIC Program

 

For Immediate Release
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Contact: news@dhhs.nc.gov
              919-855-4840

Raleigh, N.C. - Today, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced that the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, also known as WIC program, will continue to enroll new participants through at least Tuesday, October 8, 2013. DHHS is stressing that existing federal funding will allow enrolled WIC clients to keep their nutrition appointments and continue redeeming their vouchers for the time being, and that WIC vendors should continue normal operations.

The Department continues to assess the actual availability of federal funds daily, and any changes in the program will be announced at such time as it becomes necessary.

"Our biggest concern is protecting the health and well-being of our citizens and minimizing disruptions to vital services caused by the federal shutdown to the extent possible," said Secretary Aldona Wos. "DHHS will maintain the WIC program as long as existing federal funds will allow. I urge clients to keep their nutrition appointments and continue redeeming their vouchers for the time being. DHHS continues to work to minimize any negative effects of the federal government shutdown on our employees, programs and vital services."

While further furloughs may be necessary to sustain essential program operations for the maximum duration, DHHS is working with the federal government to identify federal funding to support local and state staff funded by WIC sufficient to keep WIC clinics open and maintain staff levels as long as possible. Secretary Wos added, "We feel this is critical, since despite the federal shutdown, clients will continue to come to the local WIC agencies and the volume of questions from clients and vendors will likely increase rather than diminish."

The WIC program, has an annual budget of $205 million and is 100 percent federally funded. The program provides supplemental food, health care referrals and nutrition education for almost 264,000 women, infants and young children each month. In addition to the assistance it provides needy families, the program also impacts local grocery stores and other food businesses.

DHHS is still working to assess the full impact of a federal shutdown. DHHS' leadership team will continue to work closely with federal and local partners, including DSS offices and local health departments, and update the public as we learn more about the potential impact.

Every month, North Carolinians using WIC make nearly $16.6 million in food purchases at more than 2,000 food vendors around the state. For a breakdown of the WIC program participation by county, please click here.

DHHS notes that WIC-eligible clients may also be eligible to enroll in North Carolina's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as food stamps).

DHHS is working to keep its providers and clients informed so that they can plan accordingly, as well as offer information about other resources should they be needed.

 

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