Utah WIC among one of federal programs to suffer if government shuts down

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A Food and nutrition service for low-income women is just one of the many programs that could be halted due to the impending government shutdown.

Women Infants and Children is a federally funded agency that would cease to function if lawmakers cannot come to an agreement on how to fund the government by 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

Gabriela Alvarez, a single mother of two who once was homeless, has been using WIC for six years to get nutritional foods and formula to feed her children.

'It’s really helpful, for formula when my kids were smaller milk when my kids got older,” Alvarez said. “Cheese, cereal all the products that they use it’s really helpful."

The federally-funded agency provides supplemental foods, health care referrals and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, postpartum women and their young children.

The agency offers assistance to 65,000 women in Utah alone and with their sole source of income in jeopardy the program is preparing to have those with the highest needs first.

"Those include preemies, and newborn infants as well as infants and children that might be on a medical food prescribed by their physician," said Chris Furner, Utah WIC program manager.

As a result Alvarez and many others might not get the services they have come to rely on.

“I’ve used WIC for so long I pretty much depend on it, and yea, it would hurt not just me it but a lot of other people,” Alvarez said.

WIC officials say they have spent most of Monday trying to determine just how long their contingency plan will last. Until they have a better idea of what the government’s future is they won’t know their own.

For more information on WIC visit http://www.health.utah.gov/wic/.