WIC program at risk if federal government shutdown continues

Despite the federal government shutdown, Washington’s Women, Infants, and Children Food and Nutrition Program has funding to continue service through October. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reallocated funding to cover the costs for the month.

The reprieve comes just in time for Washington’s WIC Nutrition Program, which had only enough remaining funds to operate the program statewide until Oct. 9.

WIC provides important nutrition assistance and health referrals along with breastfeeding support to pregnant and breastfeeding women and their children up to age 5, whose family income is at or below 185 percent poverty level.

The state Department of Health contracts with local health organizations and tribes to provide WIC services in all 39 counties in Washington. The program also authorizes certain grocery stores to accept WIC vouchers for the purchase of approved healthy foods.

If the federal government shutdown continues through this month, USDA will not have funding to reallocate for services in November, and Washington WIC may not have funding to continue operations. The Department of Health had been working on contingency plans in the event that WIC services had to end in October when reallocation was announced. Agency officials now have more time to develop a strategy in the event that the shutdown does not end by Nov. 1.

“WIC helps low-income families feed their children. We hope a budget will be passed, and this important program can continue beyond Oct. 31,” said Janet Jackson Charles, director of Nutrition Services at the Washington State Department of Health.

For questions about local WIC services, call the state WIC office at 1-800-841-1410. The Washington WIC Nutrition Program website has information about local WIC clinics; related services around the state can be found at or by calling the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588.


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