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Despite Shutdown, USDA Funds WIC through October

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Families who rely on WIC for healthy food will get their vouchers through the end of the month. A federal funds transfer from the Department of Agriculture will keep WIC's food voucher program going through October.

Each month, about $55 worth of vouchers goes to low income pregnant women and households with children under age five to buy baby formula, milk, fresh produce, bread and other healthy options.

More than 66,000 Iowans use WIC. Melba Brockett is one of them. She has a four-week-old son but struggles with epilepsy and finding a job.

"I almost got evicted from my house because of him," said Brockett.

Thursday's news that WIC food vouchers will keep flowing through October brought some relief to Brockett. She now has a little fiscal breathing room.

"It's going to help out for the meanwhile," she said. "If it wasn't for WIC I wouldn't have milk, I wouldn't have a lot of things."

"Praise The Lord. That was my reaction," said Linn County's WIC coordinator, Kim Ott.

Ott said as well as handing out vouchers, Linn County WIC offices will stay open, too. That means she won't have to dismiss her staff until at least next month.

"I continue to be hopeful that the government will come to a resolution, but ultimately we need to think about November 1st," Ott said.

November is on the minds of some Linn County residents who formed a WIC support group called Helping Hands During the WIC Freeze on Facebook this week.

"We still have a huge need for items at this point," said Amanda Boots, one of the organizers of the group.

Despite the October extension, they're still collecting food that WIC vouchers would cover. They're handing some out to local WIC moms who are waiting on this month's vouchers. The rest is being stockpiled for next month in case the shutdown isn't resolved.

"If everything gets worked out to where we don't need it anymore, our plan is to donate it back to the community. So, a food bank or HACAP," said Boots.

But with lawmakers still deadlocked on Capitol Hill, who knows when the government and WIC will get back to normal.

WIC officials said if you missed your appointment to get vouchers earlier this month, they'll be sent to you in the mail. Everyone else with appointments scheduled in October is asked to attend like normal.

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