Shutdown Deal has WIC Users Relieved
By Forrest Saunders, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The end of the federal government shutdown is welcome news for women and children who rely on WIC.
Thousands of Iowans use WIC food vouchers each month to buy healthy foods like bread, vegetables, milk and baby formula.
Unspent food money from the USDA was going to fund the program through the end of the month after the shutdown froze payments. But now, the federal funding is flowing again.
Shannon Chapman uses WIC vouchers to help make ends meet for her and her one-and-a-half-year-old, Gabe. She’s relived the program will keep going through next year.
“I was pleasantly surprised when I showed up, this morning. I didn’t even know if I should come for the appointment. Then, they said that they are issuing checks. It’s nice to still have that resource,” said Chapman.
The shutdown deal lawmakers reached in Washington Wednesday night meant Linn County WIC offices are back to business as usual. That’s a big change from just 24 hours earlier, when officials were planning to stop handing out vouchers, dismiss staff, and close up shop at the end of October.
“We’re just thrilled to be open and to be able to provide services for families,” said Linn County's WIC coordinator, Kim Ott.
Ott said WIC isn’t out of the woods yet. The shutdown truce only funds the government through Jan. 15th, meaning WIC could end up right back where it was unless a long term deal is approved by Congress.
“Definitely cautious about moving forward. We hope we don’t have to go through all of this again in January,” said Ott.
If they do, a Facebook group created earlier this month said they’ll help out. For weeks now, helping Hands During the WIC Freeze has been collecting food and formula to give to WIC users who lost vouchers. Thursday, they announced they've stopped collecting, but said they'll start again if another shutdown is on the horizon.
"If this happens again, we will be here to accept donations and to help these families," said Nicole Wilson, with the group.
Wilson said the food that they've already collected is being given to WIC families that have immediate needs. Anything left after that will be donated back to the community.
If you'd like to get in touch with the group officials said to contact their administrators; Heather Gausman, Jackie Nebel, Sara Ann Bush, through Facebook.
What's On KCRG