Knoxville — With 17 percent of the federal government in shutdown for 15 days, Marion County Public Health Director Kim Dorn told the Board of Health this morning that one of the affected programs, Women Infants and Children (WIC), has enough funding in the county to last through October.
WIC is funded through the "Farm Bill," which also failed to get passed earlier this year in both houses. According to Dorn's report, WIC will lose funding if no agreement is reached between the House and Senate before Nov. 1. No agreement had been reached as of Tuesday morning's Board of Health meeting.
"This will likely be problematic for many families, including WIC families, so we have notified all area food pantries of the potential uptick in usage," Dorn wrote.
MCPH staff develop food packages for families on WIC. Staff members meet with a family, and while considering the number of children to be fed, as well as the children's ages, a dietician determines what food the family should receive vouchers for. Dorn said if this program goes away, these families will still be looking for the food they receive and will likely turn to food pantries.
One commodity supplied through WIC is baby formula. MCPH often encourages mothers to breastfeed, not only because of health benefits for the child, but it also eliminates the need for formula.
The taxpayer-funded WIC program, according to MCPH, pumps $250,000 into Marion County stores each year.
Look for more on the Board of Health in the Oct. 18 Journal-Express.