El Pasoans worry about future WIC benefits if government shutdown continues


POSTED: Friday, October 4, 2013 - 5:25pm

UPDATED: Friday, October 4, 2013 - 7:33pm

Benefits for the Women, Infants, and Children Program, WIC, in Texas have not been impacted by the government shutdown, but that could change if the shutdown continues.

According to the Texas Tribune, Texas Department of State Health Services Spokesperson Carrie Williams said WIC rebate dollars would fund services for the time being, "But of course, if it stretches out for a while, we could have cash flow issues in the coming weeks."

El Pasoan Yadira Lopez, who is expecting her first child later this month, said she is concerned about losing her benefits.  She has been receiving WIC benefits throughout her pregnancy, and November is the first month she is expected to receive benefits for her baby.

"If they stop the benefits for my baby, then it would have a huge impact because that's what's helping me right now," she said.

El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Executive Director John Schwarting said it is too soon to tell if El Pasoans will turn to local food banks as an alternative, but combined with a loss in food stamp benefits, things could be extra tight.

"The next big test will be November. That's when there's about a $23, per family, cut in food stamps. At that time, we'll see what happens," said Schwarting. 

Yadira said she will try to figure out a way to make ends meet, but hopes leaders in Washington reach a deal soon.

"I suppose we'll have to start to tighten our belts a little more and start thinking of how we're going to make up for the benefits we won't receive from WIC," Yadira said.

However, she's hoping leaders in Washington reach a deal soon.

"I want them to think of the families that rely on WIC, and I hope they consider everything and reach a resolution very soon," she said.

As of now, Texas WIC Program clinics remain open, and WIC clients can continue to buy their WIC items at participating markets.



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