Gov't shutdown cuts WIC funding

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SHERMAN, TX-The shutdown has led to a cut in funding for a program that helps low income families put food on the table and that could mean millions of children will go hungry.

But while several states are feeling the blow, that's not the case in North Texas.

Nine million Americans benefit from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children or WIC. That includes thousands of people in Texoma. The Grayson County Health Department was notified Wednesday by the state health services that WIC services will continue, but they don't know for how long.

Donna Hall, a mother of seven, said a low paying job is not enough to feed her family that's why she needs WIC.

"We needed the extra assistance with the food but we stayed because they gave a lot of great advice about nutrition," she said.

Hall is one of 3,700mothers and children in Grayson county who rely on WIC. Funding the program was cut after the federal government was shutdown Tuesday.

"I realize a lot of parents, you know, that is a large source of their diet just as it was for us when we first joined," she said.

According to the USDA, most states will be able to continue WIC operations for a few weeks before running out of money. Some states like Utah and Arkansas, already had to stop the program because of a lack of funding.

But it's a different story for Texas.

"We are still operating and we expect to continue all normal operations and business hours until otherwise directed by the state."

Grayson County Health Department's Amanda Ortez said they received an e-mail from the Department of State Health and Human Services Wednesday saying business continues as usual despite the shutdown.

"There is some safety mechanism in place or possible funding that exists to support WIC in cases like this and lucky enough, the state of Texas has planned ahead," she said.

Ortez said the health department receives a $600,000 grant from the federal government every year for WIC.
She said they don't know how long that money will last, but they will keep their doors open until funding runs out.

"We don't anticipate this to last long, if it does, then of course there could be other plans of action that are taken. And at that time we'll gain communication and gain that knowledge from he DSHS passed down from the federal government," she said.

"I believe if it continues on, it will have a huge impact on our whole community," said Hall.

Health Department Director, John Teel, said the county has a rainy day fund of $300,000 to help keep health services going in case state funding runs out. But they'd need the oksy from commissioners to use it.

Ortez said despite the government shutdown, you can still enroll for WIC.

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