Government Shutdown Halts WIC Benefits in North Carolina
As the government shutdown is in the middle of its second week, it seems that there may yet be hope for a resolution of differences in Congress. However, as this story continues to grow, we are beginning to see the collateral damage to individuals that come as a result of the larger ideological battles.
There is Kendall Brown, the employed woman with Crohn’s Disease who wrote an open-letter to Congress about her need for healthcare, amongst many others.
The Huffington Post recently profiled a woman named Chelsea Combs who has been personally hit by the government shutdown.
Combs is a 21 year-old nursing student who recently became a mother and depends on the federally-funded WIC program to afford baby formula. She and her husband, who works full-time for a building-supply company, will subsist on Ramen noodles in order to make every cent count.
The WIC program had its beginnings in the 1980s when Doctors began to prescribe food to low-income pregnant woman who were suffering the effects of malnutrition. The program has since grown to serve 53 percent of all infants born in the United States. However, for Chelsea Combs and her family, the government shutdown has prevented her from being able to use her much-needed food benefits.
While most states have WIC funding through October thanks to some creative fund allocation on the part of the US Department of Agriculture, about 50,000 people in North Carolina were told they would be unable to get their benefits due to the shutdown. Combs wasn’t even notified by the agency, and only discovered that benefits were halted when she showed up at the local office to pick up her food voucher.
A spokesperson from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services places the blame directly on the federal government shutdown.