North Carolina state government announced Thursday night it will resume issuing benefits to poor women and their children through a federally funded program, two days after announcing the U.S. government shutdown would force their suspension.
State Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos said her agency had secured additional funds to continue the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children for at least a few more weeks.
WIC provides food vouchers, nutrition education and health care referrals for 264,000 women and children monthly in North Carolina. The federal government usually pays for the program's $205 million cost.
Wos' department said the money to extend the program through October came from leftover money from last year, more contingency funds from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and rebates from WIC formula manufacturer Nestle.
"Because of the uncertainty of the federal shutdown, we know this may only be a temporary solution," Wos said in a news release. "But we are committed to meeting the needs of the people of North Carolina."
The department announced Tuesday it would halt vouchers for the WIC program because it lacked sufficient funds. Local health departments were being alerted to resume issuing vouchers.
"Our state is one of the highest volume states for the WIC program, so we take the impact of the shutdown very seriously," Wos said.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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