The partial government shutdown is now going on nearly three weeks. It’s having a major impact on agencies here in Kansas. Officials overseeing the state’s WIC Program say participants are asking if the shutdown will stop their benefits.
Dave Thomason says at this point, the federal government has provided enough funds to operate WIC through the end of February. However if the shutdown continues past that, they will have to look into contingency plans.
Meet Shelby Madison and her baby, Gracelynn.
“Can you take a picture, can you say cheese?” said Shelby Madison, Wichita.
She’s among thousands of other mothers, receiving assistance through the WIC Program.
“Just like the regular baby food, I got all of this on WIC,” said Shelby.
Shelby says she appreciates the help to give Gracelynn a healthy diet, and she has concerns about the assistance possibly being cut off during a government shutdown.
“Some people really need it and so if it does kind of go away, then there’s going to be probably a lot of kids that are going to be suffering from it,” said Shelby.
She says other mothers have been talking about the potential impact, and the Director of the Kansas WIC Program has listened to those concerns. He says the Department of Agriculture who provides the funding will through February, but if the shutdown continues, they will need to reassess.
“If the shutdown does go past February and into March and April, then we will have to work on some contingency plans to identify state funds if possible,” said Dave Thomason, Director of Kansas WIC Program.
Although they don’t expect it to happen, Thomason says they have a methodical process to notify clients and grocery stores that they are stopping the program. He says they and the Department of Agriculture are working hard to ensure that WIC sticks around.
“Many families do not have the proper nutrients in the foods that they eat and so the WIC Program is important because it provides that,” said Thomason.
“So far, we’re all still good to go, so I’m hoping it stays that way,” said Shelby.
Thomason says they are speaking with Department of Agriculture officials tomorrow to find more info on the funds available. There are about 50,000 participants in Kansas each month, and about half of the babies born in Kansas use the WIC Program.