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Pennsylvania WIC Offices Open During Federal Government Shutdown

October 4, 2013
HARRISBURG– Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Michael Wolf reminded Pennsylvanians today that all Women, Infants and Children (WIC) offices across the state are open and providing services during the federal government shutdown.

“The Pennsylvania WIC program is operating as it normally does at this time, despite the federal government shutdown,” Wolf said. “All local WIC offices are currently open and are continuing to provide vital services to the families and individuals who depend on them in the commonwealth.”

The department anticipates that the Pennsylvania WIC program can continue normal operations in the short-term due to funds carried forward from the previous year and additional food funds, including rebates.

“We are watching budgets closely and have instructed all local offices to ensure fiscal responsibility with their allocated funds during this time. If we all keep focused, we believe we can sustain the program as we normally do for a few weeks,” said Wolf. “In anticipation of a possible long-term federal government shutdown, we are working with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Governor Corbett’s office to develop a plan to minimize service disruptions as much as possible.”

States say they have enough money to operate it at least through the end of October. But advocates for the poor worry that 9 million women and children will be at risk if the shutdown drags on.

Pennsylvania mom Cierra Schoeneberger (see-EHR'-ah SHOH'-in-ber-ger) says she doesn't know how she will afford $40 worth of formula a week for her 4-month-old son if she loses her WIC benefits.

As part of the long-term planning process, local WIC agencies have been asked to submit an outline to the department that details steps to minimize administrative spending and ways to ensure minimal reductions to participant food benefits should the shutdown continue for an extended period of time. The department will then coordinate plans and submit them for review to the USDA.

The Pennsylvania WIC program provides services including nutrition services, breastfeeding support, healthcare and social service referrals, and healthy foods, to approximately 250,000 recipients per month. In the fiscal year 2013-2014 their federal budget was approximately $208 million.

For additional information, recipients can visit www.pawic.com.

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