LAURINBURG — Scotland County will resume issuing benefits to poor women and their children through a federally funded program, two days after it was announced that the U.S. government shutdown would force the suspension of WIC.
State Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos said late Thursday her agency had secured additional funds to continue the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children for at least a few more weeks. It came from money carried over from last year, more contingency funds from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and rebates from WIC formula manufacturer Nestle. On Tuesday, the department had announced it would halt vouchers for the WIC program because it lacked sufficient funds.
The Scotland County Health Department will be issuing October WIC food vouchers as normal to the hundreds of women and children not served before Tuesday.
“That seems to be the message we appear to be getting at this point in time from an email that went out last night,” said Scotland County Health Director David Jenkins. “We’re issuing food benefits to those placed on the waiting list Wednesday and Thursday and issuing food benefits to new eligible applicants.”
WIC provides food vouchers, nutrition education and health care referrals for 264,000 women and children monthly in North Carolina, including 1,750 in Scotland County. The federal government usually pays for the program’s $205 million cost.
Jenkins was unable to say how many Scotland County women had been waitlisted during the interruption in voucher issuance.
The federal government instituted a partial shutdown on Oct. 1 after Congress could not agree on a temporary funding measure. Republicans in the House of Representative insist that any funding measure must delay or defund the Affordable Care Act, while Democrats insist that the law remain intact.
Social Security checks and soldiers’ paychecks will be sent as usual during the shutdown, but other programs and services the government considers non-essential will be disrupted as long as the shutdown continues.