Local families struggle after WIC program stops issuing benefits

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GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — The special supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children, also known as the WIC program, has been put on suspension due to the government shutdown, leaving many Piedmont families wondering where their next meal will come from.

As of Wednesday October 9, nutritional staff has to tell their clients they are now on a waiting list and new applications will not be processed.

In North Carolina, 264,000 people use the WIC program; 13,545 people in Guilford County.

WIC Director Rebecca Gilliland said that although the supplemental benefits are put on hold, clients are encouraged to still attend regular nutritionist appointments and counseling services, as well as make sure their mailing address information is up to date for whenever the shutdown is lifted.

Guilford County clients were sent home with a list of referral food agencies and food banks in the area as a temporary solution.

Executive Director Rev. Mike Aiken of the Greensboro Food MInistry said although their shelves are full, they are not prepared to serve the thousands who use the WIC program.

“People need to realize the government provides 23 bags of food in comparison to one bag of food that all nonprofits, churches give, so what the government does really directly affects us,” Aiken said.

The WIC program has an annual budget of $205 million dollars and is funded solely by the federal government.

In response to the WIC program suspension, Food Lion  made a $500,000 donation to food banks across the state to support citizens who need food assistance to feed their families.

“Food Lion is pleased to take a leading role across the state in providing critical funding to North Carolina food banks that will begin to receive increased requests in the coming weeks,” said Beth Newlands Campbell, president of Food Lion. “In North Carolina, one in four children face hunger each day, and parents are forced to make difficult decisions, like buying formula or paying rent, to provide their children with the nutrition they need. We’re hopeful that today’s donation helps families to make fewer of those tough choices, particularly during this time.”

The gift cards, which are in $5 increments, will be distributed to food banks in Asheville, Charlotte, Elizabeth City, Fayetteville, Raleigh and Winston-Salem that serve counties throughout the state.

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