Shutdown impacts WIC program in Washington CountyClients won’t receive food coupons until spending resolution is approved
The federal government shutdown began on Tuesday, Oct. 1, and because of the shutdown that the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Nutrition program in Washington County isn’t handing out food coupons.
Clients won’t receive food coupons until a new spending resolution is passed, said Doug Beardsley, director of Johnson County Public Health. Johnson County oversees Washington County’s WIC program.
“We knew it would probably affect us, but exactly how, we didn’t know,” he said. “The official notice came on Monday of this week.”
He also found out that if Congress doesn’t pass a spending resolution by Oct. 10, the contract for the WIC services through the Department of Agriculture will be suspended.
“Then what do we do?” Beardsley asked. “Do we furlough employees? Or continue to operate with the likeliness that the employees will be paid retroactively once a resolution is passed?”
Beardsley said not knowing what the final outcome will be for the funding of the WIC program is the most frustrating part. For now clients are asked to attend their regularly scheduled appointments, Beardsley said.
“When the clients come to their appointments we have them leave a self-addressed envelope so we can mail out the coupons once we receive them,” Beardsley said. “There shouldn’t be a lapse, hopefully.”
The WIC clinic’s other service is providing nutritional information and programs to mothers with children under the age of 5, whether they’re breast-feeding or not, and pregnant women, Beardsley said.
“The food coupons are nice but not worth that much money,” he said. “They average about $55. The real value is in the nutrition education that the clients get.”
The WIC program has held food nutrition classes and cooking classes, which show clients how to make a low-cost meal that is well-balanced, Beardsley said.
The Johnson County Public Health Department is one of 20 institutions in the state of Iowa contracted to offer WIC services from the Department of Agriculture, Beardsley said. Besides Washington and Johnson Counties, his department also oversees WIC clinics in Iowa and Cedar counties.