The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

October 3, 2013

Government shutdown: WIC funding in jeopardy

By Clifton Adcock and Lindsay Whelchel, Oklahoma Watch

If the partial shutdown of the federal government continues for weeks, it could lead to cutbacks in the federally funded program that helps low-income women, infants and children in Oklahoma, officials said Wednesday.

One possible result could be limiting the aid provided under the federal Women, Infants and Children program to only one or two of those groups, such as infants.

“That (WIC funding) is one of the main concerns, because so many people in our state receive WIC benefits,” said Pamela Williams, spokeswoman for Oklahoma State Department of Health. “Hopefully, this partial shutdown won’t go very long. We can hope for the best.”

Around 90,000 Oklahomans are on the WIC program, which offers nutritional assistance, such as formula, milk, cereal, fresh fruits and vegetables, and various services to expectant mothers, infants and children under 5 years old.

Around 22,700 recipients in Oklahoma are women, 22,500 are infants and 44,695 are children, according to the Health Department. To receive benefits, participants must have a household income at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level, or $43,568 for a family of four.

On Tuesday, the federal government partially shut down after Congress could not reach an agreement on a stopgap measure to fund the government. One group of services being cut as a result is state WIC programs.

The state receives around $63 million annually from the federal government for food services under the program, said Terry Bryce, director of the state’s WIC program.

Williams said the program has about two weeks worth of funding left. If the shutdown has not been resolved by then, the health department will reassess the situation.

Bryce said among the options would be prioritizing what groups get the remaining WIC funds.

“We feel, hopefully, this will be resolved in the next week or two weeks,” Bryce said. “Of course, at some point down the road, if we’re talking about a great length of time, at some point, we will not be able to fund the program.”

One mother who receives WIC, Rikki Cuccaro, of Piedmont, said she is worried about whether she would lose WIC assistance for her 4-year-old daughter Emma.

“For me personally, it’s something that helps take the (financial) burden off,” Cuccaro said. “Without the help from WIC, I probably won’t be able to keep up with as much milk as she drinks.”

Cuccaro said one of her friends who has an infant is concerned, because without WIC, she wouldn’t be able to afford formula for her baby.

“It’s so hard for mothers. Formula’s expensive,” Cuccaro said. “There are a lot of hungry babies that are going to have no formula. There are a lot of people who rely on formula for their babies.”

Bryce said all WIC beneficiaries should continue to keep their nutrition appointments and use their vouchers as they normally would. If there is a change in operations, he said, the state will notify beneficiaries.

About 9 million people nationwide receive WIC benefits, Bryce said.

“All the state WIC programs are looking at these next two to three weeks very carefully, and may have to make some tough decisions down the road,” Bryce said. “Hopefully not.”

Meanwhile, Oklahoma Department of Human Services is looking at ways the shutdown may affect some of the programs it administers, such as food stamps and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.

So far, the programs have not been affected, but that could change, said DHS spokesman Mark Beutler.

“As for now, there has been no immediate impact on our programs,” Beutler said. “We are open for business and are waiting to see how long the shutdown will last.”

Oklahoma Watch is a nonprofit organization that produces in-depth and investigative journalism on important public-policy issues facing the state.

1
Text Only
Local and State News
  • Lady_Liberty_A-26_3_BH_W.jpg Work begins on Lady Liberty's engine

    A-26 Lady Liberty Support Group has raised $20,000 of the $60,000 needed for rebuilding the engine of the bomber, which saw action in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cool Snap_Hass_W.jpg Cool snap brings heat relief to Oklahoma, Arkansas

    A cold front headed for Oklahoma and Arkansas will bring unseasonably cool temperatures and a chance of rain through next week, weather forecasters said Monday.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • City of Enid brand.jpg City moves next meeting to Monday

    Their meeting and study session, originally scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 5, will be on Monday instead.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • iw_worldtour_3lines_flat_hd.jpg TNA Impact Wrestling announces show in Enid

    TNA Impact Wrestling will make a stop in Enid in September.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Trentadue.jpg Trial opening over video of Oklahoma City bombing

    Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue says the FBI won’t release security camera videos that show a second person was with Timothy McVeigh when he parked a truck outside the Oklahoma City federal building and detonated a bomb, killing 168 people.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo 1 Link

  • crime stoppers web.jpg Truck reported stolen in Enid

    The victim told the reporting officer sometime between 7:30 p.m. July 16 and 11:30 a.m. July 17, someone took a vehicle from in front of their residence. The vehicle is a gray 1991 Dodge Dakota displaying 2014 Oklahoma tag 205-HUV.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rodeo 1_W.jpg Rush of adrenaline

    Teen’s interest in bullriding leads to 4th-in-nation recognition at National High School Finals Rodeo.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • 2 earthquakes recorded

    Two small earthquakes were recorded Sunday in northwestern Oklahoma.

    July 27, 2014

  • County Commissioners meeting Monday

    The Board of Garfield County Commissioners is expected to receive an update Monday on work at the future home of the Enid and Garfield County Emergency Management office and the Garfield County Sheriff's Office.

    July 27, 2014

  • Fairview Play 2_W.jpg Funds raised from musical to help assisted living in Fairview

    A proposed $1.6 million assisted living facility in Fairview will soon be getting a boost in funding from musical performances and dinners.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

News Photos


Enid News & Eagle photos taken throughout February 2014. Enjoy full-access all ENE photos at http://enidnews.smugmug.com