If the federal government shutdown continues longer than two more weeks, 70,000 young mothers, babies and preschoolers in Kansas stand to lose access to some of the food they rely on.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has ordered local WIC offices to withhold checks for November and December until federal funding is assured. WIC checks are normally issued for three months at a time.
Dave Thomason heads the federally-funded Women Infants and Children supplemental food program in Kansas and says withholding checks dated later than October is a precautionary response to the federal shutdown.
“We’re hopeful that the shutdown will end, but we have to take measures to limit our fiscal liability with the uncertainty of federal funding for the period of time after October,” says Thomason.
Thomason says WIC is designed to make sure low-income pregnant women, nursing mothers, infants and young children get targeted nutrition to help them be healthy and develop as they should.
“We consider it similar to a prescription,” say Thomason. “It’s a food prescription to help them to have good nutrition in their lives and in the food that they eat.”
Thomason says the average benefit is about $40 a month, per person. While the checks for November and December are being withheld, Thomason says WIC clinics around the state remain open.