Senator hints at prolonged federal shutdown

School lunch and WIC funding have only a few weeks left, Sen. Roy Blunt says

By JoEllen Black/Richmond News

Families with children will soon feel the impact if the federal government shutdown is prolonged, Missouri Republican Senator Roy Blunt said Wednesday in a conference call with Missouri media.

“Both WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) and school lunches have one to two weeks (of funding), the most,” he said. Blunt then retrieved his most current information: the federal free and reduced lunch program has only 15 days of funding before it runs out.

“All of these have economic consequences on families,” he said, adding that food banks will be impacted as well.

Schools are reimbursed for lunch and other meal costs on a monthly basis and are allowed to carry over funds from the previous fiscal year, however.

WIC gives grants to states for supplemental food, like cereal, eggs, milk and baby formula, along with nutrition and breast-feeding education for low-income pregnant women, new mothers, and to infants and children up to age five who are nutritionally at risk. The program serves 53 percent of all infants born in the U.S and 651 clients in Ray County.

WIC, part of the USDA, will continue as “business as usual” for now, Stacey Cox, Ray County Health Department director said.

“If this goes several weeks, we would be restructured. That’s always scary for people,” she said. During the last government shutdown 18 years ago, Cox said WIC gave priority to babies and toddlers to stretch funding.

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Blunt said his offices are open and will field questions from constituents regarding services. Those numbers are: 202-224-5721 (Washington), 816-471-7141 (Kansas City).


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