Mississippi WIC program remains open

Published 12:04 am Friday, October 4, 2013

NATCHEZ — The Mississippi State Department of Health announced Thursday that its WIC nutrition program will remain open through the month of October even without congressional action.

MSDH officials said earlier this week that the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children would not receive funding during the government shutdown, which is in its fourth day.

The United States Department of Agriculture — the agency that funds the WIC program — gave MSDH permission to use available funds remaining from the last fiscal year, according to a press release. Without those funds, the WIC program would have to terminate services to more than 94,000 clients each month because of the shutdown.

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The WIC Program is a supplemental nutrition program for pregnant, breastfeeding, and post-partum women, infants and children under five years of age. The Mississippi Program operates and maintains 96 distribution sites serving clients statewide.

State Health Officer Dr. Mary Currier says this option will make a big difference for the WIC progam and its recipients.

“The USDA allowing us to use these funds ensures that we will be able to continue WIC operations, without disruption, for at least the complete month of October,” Currier said. “This gives us a little breathing room.”

Currier said MSDH will continue to monitor, assess and make plans for every contingency as no new federal funding can be used until Congress acts to appropriate fiscal year 2014 funds.

“Please know that we are working every way possible to continue our services to moms and babies in Mississippi, and to protect the jobs of our dedicated employees,” she said.