Needy women and children in the federal supplemental food nutrition program known as WIC will get a temporary reprieve, after the government shutdown froze payments for the core food items provided by WIC.
A federal funds transfer will allow money to keep flowing through the end of October.
“Well, it’s good news,” said Doug Beardsley, director of the Johnson County Department of Public Health, which oversees the WIC program for Johnson, Cedar, Iowa and Washington counties. “It buys us some time.”
WIC coordinators received notice this morning that additional funding had been received through the United States Department of Agriculture. This will allow WIC administers to continue distributing the coupons through Oct. 31.
They had been told they could no longer issue new coupons as of Oct. 1.
Some WIC recipients expecting checks this month were left scrambling for alternatives. Meanwhile, Eastern Iowans have rushed to their aid, organizing food drives and baby formula collections.
According to a letter from the Iowa Department of Public Health to WIC coordinators, the continuation of WIC payments was made possible after USDA transferred unspent food funding from fiscal 2013 to fiscal 2014.
Coupons are typically distributed in three-month cycles. However, WIC coordinators were told today (Thursday) to only distribute coupons for October, and not November and December. The coupons’ average worth is about $55.
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, is a federally funded program through the USDA for pregnant, new and breastfeeding mothers and children younger than 5. More than 66,000 people a month in Iowa and nearly 9 million around the country use WIC coupons to buy core food items like bread, milk, cheese and baby formula.