Food pantries gear up to supplement those who lost WIC benefits - WNCN: News, Weather

Food pantries look to help those who lost WIC benefits

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WIC Vouchers like these are only paid for through October because of the federal government shutdown WIC Vouchers like these are only paid for through October because of the federal government shutdown

Food banks around the state are ramping up in anticipation of increased demand now that the funds for the WIC program have dried up due to the U.S. government shutdown.

That program helps 264,000 low income mothers and kids under the age of five with things like baby formula, milk, and vegetables.

The Catholic Parish Outreach Food Pantry in Raleigh provides supplemental food to almost 11,000 people in the area on a monthly basis. Officials at the pantry said they are prepared to see many WIC clients come to get essential foods for their children after they spend their current WIC vouchers. 

"I'm trying to stay healthy with this pregnancy, so that the baby gets enough nutrients and stuff and that's why I buy a lot of stuff with my WIC," said expectant mother and WIC client, Artesa Ford.

But when Ford's October vouchers are used up, food pantries like Catholic Parish Outreach will have to try and fill the void.

But if that happens, the food pantry's director said it'll have to cut back the amount of food distributed to clients so more people can be served with the same amount of donations.

"You feel so powerless," said pantry director Terry Foley. "We're all hoping congress will come together and do something soon to get this budget resolved."

As the mother of four children, Christon Herron depends on WIC and without it supplementing her food budget, something will have to give.

"We're just going to have to buy cheaper things to afford things that aren't cheap like milk, eggs, and cheese. Those are essential for us," she said.

 North Carolina gets $205 million in federal funding a year to ensure proper nutrition for pregnant women and their young children under the WIC program.

Although it may take a month to see food needs increase, there's one demand that's immediate. The food pantry said mothers began asking today for infant formula which is also provided under WIC.

"We've had a big increase today in people coming requesting formula," said the pantry's Kelly Rappl.

Catholic Parish Outreach is one of the few food pantries that stocks formula, but their supply is limited and they expect it'll be used up in as few days.

DHHS officials say families who don't get the WIC vouchers can apply for food stamps.

Steve Sbraccia

Steve is an award-winning reporter for WNCN and former assistant professor. A seasoned professional, Steve is proud to call the Triangle home since 2005 after over two decades in Boston, Mass.  More>>

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