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Utah’s Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program has received $2.5 million in emergency funding from the United States Department of Agriculture that will allow the program to re-open its clinics and begin issuing food vouchers to both new and existing clients.
Staff will return to clinics as soon as possible and can begin issuing new food vouchers immediately upon their return. It is anticipated all clinics will be open by noon today, Friday, October 4. Clinics in Salt Lake County and Summit County that used local emergency funding to keep their doors open during the shutdown will be able to begin issuing new food vouchers immediately.
The emergency funding is expected to keep the program running at full scale through the end of October. If the federal government does not resume normal operations by then, it’s likely the program would again have to scale back its operations.
“This is welcome news for the 66,000 moms, babies, and children we serve, especially those who didn’t have food vouchers for the month of October,” said Utah WIC director Chris Furner. “Unfortunately, we’re not entirely out of the woods. If Washington can’t reach an agreement to end the shutdown by the end of this month, we’ll likely wind up in the same position we found ourselves in earlier this week.”
Funded entirely by the federal government, but administered by the state and local health departments in Utah, the WIC program provides food and nutrition education to low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, and infants and children up to age five.
The program has been partially closed since Tuesday due to the federal government shutdown. WIC clinics were shuttered, staff were furloughed, and no new food vouchers were issued. Vouchers that have been issued for use during the month of October have been, and will continue to be honored at all 300 retailers throughout the state that participate in the WIC program.