N.C. restarts WIC benefits
The waiting list for new WIC clients was only 2 days old when state officials told the Caldwell County Health Department it could resume accepting applications.
The reason they were ever told to stop remained unclear Friday.
After the federal government shut down Oct. 1, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said states could use contingency funds and unspent money from the previous year, together totalling $125 million, to keep WIC going through October.
On Tuesday, the state Department of Health and Human Services announced it had to stop issuing vouchers for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children program, or WIC. WIC's 264,000 clients, including the 2,034 in Caldwell County, would be able to use vouchers they already had been sent but would not receive any more. For those wanting to sign up for the first time, all county health departments were told to start a waiting list for when the shutdown ended.
North Carolina was the only state to say that the funding sources identified by USDA were short of what was needed to continue issuing WIC benefits through October.
However, late Thursday DHHS officials reversed course and said the department had secured additional funds to continue the WIC program.
"I'm thrilled that the funds were identified and that we can move forward and resume accepting WIC applications," said Denise Michaud, health director for Caldwell County.
Ricky Diaz, communications director, said that additional money to support WIC includes product rebates from WIC formula manufacturer Nestle Foods. He said he could not explain why North Carolina was the only state where officials believed that the lapsed funds from the previous year and the contingency funds from USDA would not be enough to cover new WIC vouchers.