The Women, Infant and Children Program—commonly known as WIC was not spared from Tuesday's government shutdown. The federal assistance program allows women to purchase nutritious foods at specified stores, provides infant formula vouchers, nutritional education and access to healthcare.
Women in Utah who already received WIC vouchers for the month of October will be able to use the money; however women who did not receive payment may be affected by the shutdown.
Families who need assistance are being directed to local food pantries. Ginette Bott from the Utah Food Bank gives suggestions for families finding themselves in need.
“What we are suggesting right now is that people who are in that situation call 211, the information referral hotline. Th3ey can give the person who answers the phone their zip code; they can learn from that what locations they can go to for services," Bott said.
Pantries may not be as prepared to provide things like infant formula or as convenient as a grocery store.
“The tricky part with pantries is that they are not open every day. They’re not open for long periods of time. Sometimes it’s 2, 4, 6 hours a day, so unfortunately it’s not a convenient thing to do. But the pantry will be the resource for folks in their neighborhoods.”
Currently, Utah’s WIC webpage states that all WIC clinics will be closed until government operations resume and that all appointments have been canceled.
The Salt Lake County Council voted to declare an emergency, enabling the county to provide one week’s worth of food to women who have not yet received vouchers. Cache County Council members who were contacted by UPR did not have immediate plans to alter WIC assistance at the local level.
There is a new group on Facebook self dedicated to helping Utah's WIC families, which brings together those who can give and those who wish for help.