Tulsa Mother Worried WIC Funding Will Run Out During Government Shutdown

Wednesday, October 9th 2013, 5:15 pm
By: Craig Day

With each day, the partial shutdown of the federal government is impacting more people.

Funding will run out soon for the WIC program, which provides things like formula, milk and food to nearly 9 million women and children nationwide, including tens of thousands of Oklahomans.

But with the shutdown, the program is running out of money.

Megan Olmstead just had a baby Saturday. Anthony should get to come home from the hospital Thursday.

"He's a healthy, beautiful boy," Olmstead said.

Olmstead has benefited from WIC, a government supplemental nutrition program that helps women, infants and children.

"Formula is expensive. Everyone I know is on WIC. It took care of my family with milk and cereal and cheese the whole time I was pregnant, all the nutrients that we needed," she said.

9/30/2013 Related Story: Some Government-Funded Programs Safe Despite Possible Shutdown

Olmstead said WIC also helped with her two older children. But with the partial shutdown, the federal government stopped funding the WIC program.

"If everything shuts down, I don't know what I'm going to do," Olmstead said.

It worries her and Tom Taylor, executive director of Emergency Infant Services, a privately funded non-profit that helps children with formula, food and other necessities.

"The longer it goes on, our fear is that new people won't be able to sign up for WIC to get the formula and food vouchers that they need, and come November 1, there will be hungry children in Tulsa," Taylor said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates funds for WIC will run out at the end of October.

Emergency Infant Services usually sees its clients four times each year, but will temporarily extend those client visits to one visit per month. The non-profit will primarily focus on providing formula and milk for infants, since other agencies can provide food items.

"They'll be able to bring in their WIC vouchers to us show us, 'I need to sign up for WIC and couldn't,' or, 'I am a current WIC client, please feed my baby,'" Taylor said.

Olmstead is grateful for the help and hopeful leaders in Washington reach a budget compromise.

"I think it's going to hurt a lot of people in the economy," she said.

Taylor is concerned, even if federal funds are restored, there could be a couple months of lag time, where families aren't getting the nutrition they need.

Emergency Infant Services has two locations, at 222 South Houston and at 41st and Mingo.