LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Sept. 30, 2013) - Officials at the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) announced late this afternoon that an arrangement had been reached with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that would preserve benefits and jobs in the Women Infants and Children's (WIC) program on a week-by-week basis in the event of a government shutdown tonight.
The commitment from USDA would cover ADH administrative costs for WIC for this week, action that will prevent furloughing WIC staff and allow ADH to continue issuing certifications and re-certifications without interruption tomorrow. If necessary, ADH will have ongoing discussions with USDA to raise issues of funding shortfalls over the next few weeks.
In August, the WIC program in Arkansas served 23,595 infants, 42,105 children and 2,039 women. Of those women, 10,725 are pregnant and 2,760 were breastfeeding.
Currently there are 273 ADH employees whose jobs are funded by the WIC program.
The WIC program is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. The Arkansas WIC Program is administered by the Arkansas Department of Health through a grant provided by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
• Supplemental foods high in nutrients during time of critical growth and development.
• Nutrition education designed to improve dietary habits and health status and to emphasize the relationship between nutrition and health.
• Information, support and encouragement for breastfeeding.
• Referrals for other health services.
Pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women, infants and children under age 5 may qualify if they live in Arkansas, have a nutritional need and have an income at or below WIC guidelines or receive Medicaid, ARKids, TEA or SNAP (Food Stamps).