The Vermont Department of Health is assuring the nearly 13,000 Vermonters who are enrolled in WIC that the program is open and food benefits and health services continue to be available, despite the ongoing partial government shutdown.
"No one expected the federal shutdown to go on this long," said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD. "The ripple effects are starting to be felt by more and more people, and we want our WIC families to know that we and our services are still there for them."
WIC is the federally funded Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. The Health Department's WIC nutrition services are provided through its 12 Local Health Offices (http://www.healthvermont.gov/local) and smaller clinic sites. WIC provides access to healthy foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support and more to income-eligible pregnant women, infants and children under age 5, as well as their families and caregivers.
The Health Department said that current Vermont WIC food funding is assured through the end of March, though Dr. Levine said he is hopeful the situation will be resolved before then. WIC food benefits will be issued for February and March. Participants can continue to use their WIC benefits as usual.
"However long this continues, our priority is to make sure Vermonters are taken care of," said Dr. Levine. "We have been working with our 8,000 WIC families and our partners throughout the state, especially grocers, to spread the word that WIC is open," said Dr. Levine. "We especially want to encourage anyone who may now be eligible for benefits as a result of the shutdown, to contact their local health office so we can get them set up with services." WIC will be using Facebook and the WICShopper App to provide regular updates for families.
For information about WIC in Vermont and to apply, visit healthvermont.gov/wic, or contact your local health office (healthvermont.gov/local) Monday - Friday between 7:45 - 4:30.
USDA WIC information and updates: https://www.fns.usda.gov/FY19Lapse
Media Contact: Ben Truman, Vermont Department of Health, 802-951-5153 / 802-863-7281