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WIC program to be funded through October, despite government shutdown

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SHREVEPORT, La. -

As we continue day three of the U.S. government shutdown, most functions are at a standstill.

And until this afternoon, that included benefits that helps mothers buy food for their babies.

The women, infants, and children's program - commonly called WIC - was suspended on Tuesday.

But the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals announced Thursday afternoon that the WIC program will be funded through the month of October.

This comes after guidance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

DHH says funds set aside from the prior fiscal year will be used to keep the program going until the end of the month.

Still, with no end in sight for the government shutdown, services for women who need them could still be in jeopardy.

"Everyone is concerned about how long this is going to be in effect. The ability for new mothers and babies to get on to the program, having to wait indefinitely," says Willie White, Executive Director for David Raines Community Health Centers in Shreveport-Bossier.

White says about 1,500 women apply for WIC benefits every month through the David Raines clinics.

The statement from DHH goes on to say that those who only recevied partial benefits will have to return to their local WIC office to get the rest of those vouchers.

Additionally, the program will also be able to accept new applicants during October, contrary to the list of restrictions released on Tuesday.

Grocery stores and other businesses that accept WIC are being advised that they should honor the WIC vouchers until the end of October. 

According to DHH, the federally funded program serves an average of 140,000 women, infants, and children every month in Louisiana.

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