Two days into the government shutdown, the U.S.D.A. has transferred unspent funding from last year to the Women Infants and Children or WIC supplemental food assistance program for the month of October.
Jill Lange, the director of the WIC program for the state, says 66,000 mothers and children in Iowa receive WIC benefits. “What that means is we are now able to print checks for WIC participants just for the month of October. At this point we are only issuing October because we don’t have any money to go any further out than that,” Lange says.
Checks average about $55 a month, and are usually distributed three months at a time. Recipients will only get their October checks now, and will receive November and December in the mail if the federal shutdown ends before then.
Doug Beardsley oversees the WIC program for four southeast Iowa counties and says it isn’t a permanent fix — but he’s staying optimistic the shutdown will end in time.
“Not going to get into the politics of it all, but hopefully members of Congress can sit down and get something worked out so we can get back to doing what we’ve been contracted to do,” Beardsley says.
Beardsley says when news got out that the government shutdown had halted WIC, calls poured in from Iowans offering to donate food and infant formula.