For more than 500 Harvey County residents it is welcome news: Kansas has received additional funds to support WIC and keep the program operational during a governmental shutdown. 

According to KDHE, the funds should keep the program operating through March. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides Federal grants to States for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age 5 who are found to be at nutritional risk.

Locally the program is administrated by the Harvey County Health Department. According to Dave Thomason, Director of the Nutrition and WIC Services Section in the KDHE Bureau of Family Health, there were 521 recipients in Harvey County in December, the most recent statistics available. Of those, 119 were women — 40 of whom were pregnant — while 255 were children ages 1 through 5 and 147 were infants under the age of 1. 

WIC gives about $70 per month to pregnant women, $90 per month  to breastfeeding mothers, $140 per month for formual fed infants and $60 a month to children under the age of 5. Assistance can be used to purchase only WIC approved foods.

KDHE received an additional $1,421,255 for food purchases and $889,645 for Nutrition Services and Administration. These funds now allow Kansas to purchase foods until Mar. 4, 2019 and keep staff operational until Mar. 13.

“This is good news for the WIC program in Kansas,” Thomason said. “There is a great deal of uncertainty during the shutdown, so this news will help to communicate that the WIC program is secure into March. We will continue to share any other news about this program in the meantime.”

According to the USDA, there were 50,278 recipients of WIC in September 2018, the most recent number available.   Accoring to kansaswic.org, the program serves all 102 counties in Kansas.

The USDA continues to monitor state WIC programs and is working to ensure that programs remain operational. States were instructed to contact the USDA prior to implementing any changes to the program that would curtail operations or in any way limit or restrict access to the program and its benefits.