By Paula Wethington / Monroe on a Budget

One of the programs that has attracted quite a bit of attention during the federal government shutdown is the Women Infants Children food and nutrition program. Both the supermarket and the farmer’s market WIC purchases would be impacted.

Monroe Farmer’s Market does participate in the WIC Project Fresh program.

Michigan’s Department of Community Health administers the WIC program at the state level. Last December, Monroe County (MI) Department of Health had 3,200 clients on its WIC program.

To correct a myth on this program, which I unfortunately saw on another news organization’s Facebook feed Oct. 4: WIC is NOT limited to single mothers. I knew families more than 20 ago who were on this program in which the couples were married and the dads earning a paycheck. Their income was so low that they qualified for WIC. I also quoted both a dad and a grandma in a newspaper article I wrote in December about Monroe County’s WIC program.

Technical glitch

There are reports on Oct. 12, 2013, of a technical problem with the EBT system used by Michigan Bridge Card. Those headlines and links are in a separate post.

Status in Michigan

The Michigan Department of Community Health posted this statement Oct. 2 about Government shutdown: impact on WIC.

The Michigan Department of Community Health has received many questions regarding the impact of the federal government shutdown on WIC services. We understand the uncertainty this presents for our WIC clients, vendors and community partners.

WIC clinics statewide will continue to operate as usual, and WIC approved stores will continue to accept and redeem WIC EBT card benefits. WIC is a federally funded USDA program and operates differently from State to State.

In Michigan, the Department of Community Health projects it can maintain all WIC services until early November. Michigan WIC is committed to keeping you informed.

Please contact your local WIC clinic if you have additional questions.

The Monroe News posted an update Oct. 3 from Associated Press: Michigan WIC program OK for 4 to 5 weeks.

The state of Michigan says there is enough money to keep providing healthy food to low- and moderate-income pregnant women and children for about a month.
Earlier this week Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration expressed concerned that federal funding might only last for 10 days due to the partial shutdown of the federal government. But the state Department of Community Health says “spend forward” money and reallocated funding will sustain the program for four to five weeks.

The Detroit Free Press posted this article Oct. 2: WIC program safe for 4-5 weeks.

Angela Minicuci, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Community Health, said this morning that it now appears that the state has enough funding to cover the Women, Infants and Children program for 4 to 5 weeks, not the 10 days reported Tuesday.

Of note to Milan MI readers:

Aid in Milan is preparing to step up to assist families in the Milan, Mich., area with diapers, wipes and formula should the continued shutdown affect the WIC grocery program and those who rely on it to help with family expenses.

People’s Presbyterian Church, 210 Smith St., Milan, Mich., is a dropoff site for this effort and donations can be delivered between 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. “We are seeking to love our neighbors by providing for some of their needs. We will be collecting donations until the government reopens,” the announcement said.

For information, call the church at (734) 439-1922.

Across the country

The Feminist Hulk has taken on a mission of posting links and information about WIC on a state by state basis. The hostess of that site is Jessica Lawson, a graduate student in Iowa. Here’s her story at NPR: Feminist Hulk Smash Shutdown.

This Associated Press report posted Oct. 4 at The Monroe News: Shutdown jeapardizes WIC’s nutrition program for poor. The original AP story did not include the Michigan details. I added them on the Monroe News feed.

Officials in several states say they can operate WIC at least through the end of October, easing fears among officials that it would run out of money within days.
That includes Michigan, where the state Department of Community Health said Thursday that its “spend forward” money and reallocated funding can sustain its WIC program for four to five weeks.
But advocates and others worry what will happen if the shutdown drags on beyond that.

Previous reports

The MLive newspaper network posted this at its report Government shutdown costing Michigan $18 million a day after State of Michigan budget director John Nixon had a press conference Oct. 1:

The biggest programs affected by the shutdown will be food stamps, the Women, Infants and Children feeding program, the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance program and the school lunch program. … Nixon said the state has only about 10 days’ worth of funds to support the WIC program from appropriations that had not been spent.

A document on the U.S. Department of Agriculture Web site details the budget implications for a variety of programs, including WIC:

No additional federal funds would be available to support the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)’s clinical services, food benefits and administrative costs. States may have some funds available from infant formula rebates or other sources, including spendforward authority, to continue operations for a week or so, but States would likely be unable to sustain operations for a longer period.

Contingency funds will be available to help States – but even this funding would not fully mitigate a shortfall for the entire month of October. …

No additional federal funds would be available to support the Commodity Assistance Programs (CAP) including the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) administrative funding, and the WIC Farmers’ Markets Nutrition Program (FMNP).

Last updated Oct. 12, 2013.

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