The federal government shutdown could mean as many as 122,000 women and young children in South Carolina could lose food benefits they now get through the WIC program.
WIC stands for Women, Infants and Children. The federal program provides food vouchers for low-income women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and for their children up to age 5. Those vouchers can be used only for basics like milk, formula, eggs, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
The federal government deemed the WIC program "non-essential" as part of the shutdown.
WIC recipient Amanda Martin, of Swansea, says, "For people who aren't making a salary the size of theirs, they'd understand how essential it is. Some of us can't provide 10 to 15 cans of formula a month."
While WIC is a federal program run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it's administered in South Carolina by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. DHEC says, "We have received some contingency funding from the USDA due to the federal shutdown. Based on current projections, we believe we can maintain WIC services until Oct. 15, 2013. This projection is being reevaluated daily and DHEC is attempting to identify additional reserve funding to maintain WIC services during the federal government shutdown."
Martin says the thought of losing the vouchers that provide food for her and her children scares her. "Two adults, four kids to take care of. There are people out there trying to do everything by their self. I have a husband with me that helps, but for those single moms or single dads, I feel bad for them."
DHEC says here's who gets food through WIC in any given month:
Average number of monthly WIC recipients by region:
Average number of WIC vouchers processed daily: 10,500
On average, $8 million in federal dollars is spent per month providing nutrition assistance to WIC recipients in South Carolina.
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