WIC program threatened by federal government shutdown

Tough choices could be coming soon for thousands of families that rely on a federal program to put food on the table.

Right now the state of Wisconsin is working on a contingency plan to provide state funds to the WIC program that provides nutrition for low-income mothers, pregnant women, babies and young children.

The Eau Claire City County Health Department says it is continuing business as usual but that isn't keeping mothers who receive WIC benefits from worrying about what comes next.

“I don't understand why this should be taken away its just really blowing my mind,” WIC recipient Ruby Standifer said.

For a new mom with limited income, the possible loss of some essential support came as a surprise to Standifer.

“This just adds more stress to my life knowing that there could possibly not be WIC checks. Especially because I’m breastfeeding it’s important for me to be healthy and to be eating more,” she said.

But with the possibility of that help not being there in the future, the new mom says she'll have a lot of budgeting to do.

“It would just mean that we would have to really sit down and rebudget our whole life,” Standifer said.

Ruby isn't the only one that'll be running the numbers, as the state works to find a way keep the program going while the federal government shutdown continues.

“Each state was instructed to come up with a plan to reallocate some funds. At this point we have enough funds to carry us forward but we have not heard from the state how long that carryover will last,” Eau Claire county WIC director Beth Draeger said.

Draeger says the Health Department has been fielding calls all day from people asking if their checks are still good.

“We are staying open, so there are enough funds to support the checks that are out there currently,” she said.

But for parents who rely on the money to feed little mouths they have a few words for leaders still locked in a budget battle.

“Put yourself in my shoes what would you want if something like this was offered to you and then taken away,” Standifer said.

The Eau Claire Health Department says its WIC offices will continue to remain open. They say they will still continue to accept new applications despite the shutdown.

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