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Government shutdown suspends WIC program

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TWC News: Government shutdown suspends WIC program
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CHARLOTTE -- The government shutdown is now affecting low income mothers and their babies. On Tuesday, the government stopped funding the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children, also known as "WIC."

Many mothers across North Carolina say they are angry about the government shutdown.

"I never had to ask for help before and now that we're having to ask for help, It's not available," said Crystal Pill. "It makes me upset that you would take benefits away from women and children especially babies."

Pill made an appointment at her local WIC office two weeks ago. The mother of four was all set on getting benefits for her newborn. Now that will not happen.

"I did not get any vouchers or anything today, and I will not hear anything until the whole government thing is resolved," said Pill.

The number of families in the state who depend on WIC benefits is 264,000. Many of those families already received their vouchers for the month of October, and there is enough funding to cover vouchers for the rest of the month. However, new clients will have to wait.

"We don't think about how all of the different levels of government are interrelated and how when something bad happens at one of them, it trickles down to the other levels as well," said Stephen Keener, medical director of the Department of Public Health.

North Carolina health officials say in the meantime, WIC offices are forced to send families to local food banks and other non-profits in hopes of getting them the support they need.
Meanwhile, moms say they cannot believe elected officials cannot get their act together.

"I think it's very selfish that they are fighting over something like this, and that they're not understanding who it's affecting," said Pill.

The Department of Health and Human Services says stores and other vendors accepting WIC can operate as normal. DHHS also says it is working with the federal government to find more funding for the program.

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