Shutdown Shuts off Food for 1000s of Women, Children and Infants

By B.A. Morelli, Reporter

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By Larry Burkum

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Women, children and infants that depend on a federal food program for staple nutrition are being denied service due to the government shutdown.

As of today, women on the WIC program are being denied voucher checks they can take to the store for items like bread, milk, eggs, cereal and baby formula.

"Most people understand but some are surprised," Kim Ott, the WIC coordinator for Linn County, said of denying checks today to people expecting them. "We have a few people who say, 'How am I going to feed my baby?"

Statewide this could impact about 66,000 people this month if the government shutdown last throughout October, according to Jill Lange, statewide director of the WIC program for Iowa. On average checks are good for about $55 a month for specific food items.

Linn County served 4,618 people in September, and the Johnson County WIC office which also serves Cedar, Iowa and Washington Counties served 2,759 people.

WIC checks issued prior to today are still valid and being accepted by grocery stories, however WIC offices can not issue new checks.

Clients are being encouraged to keep their appointments, which also offer educational information, even though they will not get their checks.

Jobs surrounding the WIC program, including 13 in Linn County and 15 in Johnson County, are also at risk. Contingency funding will cover operational costs for the next 10 days, but then those people will be out of work if the shutdown is not resolved.

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