State funding will help WIC stay afloat through October - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

State funding will help WIC stay afloat through October

(Toledo News Now) -

One vital program that will be impacted locally by the government shutdown is WIC.

WIC is the federally-funded nutrition program for low-income women, infants and children. The program is no longer receiving federal money, but they're doing all they can to keep families fed.

The Health Department wasn't prepared for this shutdown, because the last time something like this happened was 1995, but the state has provided funding in the amount of $5.4 million. That's expected to cover state operations and local agency funding into early November.

"With this shutdown, this is a big impact," said Larry Vasko, deputy health commissioner of the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department. "There's a lot of people being served by WIC, and it looks like it's going to affect them all."

Vasko says WIC is vital to those in need.

"It's a program that's been in place for 40 years," he said. "Its track record is very good. It really targets people who need the support."

Vasko says a government shutdown is the last thing they needed. In the past year, the program was hit with a 10-percent reduction, which affected staffing in their breastfeeding program. They made it through that, and now the state is helping them with this most recent hit.

"The State of Ohio has put together their resources, and they've come up with a little over $5 million that they will run the state program with through the early part of November," Vasko said.

But if the shutdown continues after that time period, the program will cease to exist.

"Fifty percent of our agency budgets come through as federal grants, so there is a whole lot more than the WIC program that will be put to bed if that happens," he said. "So now is the time to panic."

Vasko says he's unsure about the next step that needs to be taken if the shutdown goes past the beginning of November, but he's encouraging people to call state leaders, to encourage them to call Washington.

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