Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams says because the county came forward last week with emergency funding, many area low-income moms and babies will continue to have access to food and baby formula. The supply arrived at the Utah Food Bank today.
Early last week, money for the federal Women, Infants and Children program or WIC was cut off because of the government shutdown. WIC provides qualified recipients access to baby formula, healthy food and other support. Later, on Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the program would be funded through October as long as the shutdown persists. But Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams says there still would have been a gap in services.
“We were told that we would have to cancel WIC appointments and stop providing services," McAdams says. "So, had the county council not stepped in there would have been a gap of a few days and potentially longer.”
McAdams says the federal government needs to end the shutdown soon because the county doesn’t have the resources to fund it indefinitely.
“To know that there is a chance that they will be cut off at the end of October is incredibly stressful for mothers with young children. They should not be put through this stress as pawns in a political game.”
Ginette Bott is Chief Marketing Officer for the Utah Food Bank. She says baby food and formula are commodities the food bank typically doesn’t stock.
“Because the WIC program has focused on kids from zero to five, the formula, the baby food has been able to be purchased by mothers with the vouchers," Bott says. "If that voucher system is to go away then we’d need to be prepared to step up to implement some sort of a program to help them.”
She says the supply of almost 1300 containers of formula will last less than a week. They’ll be divided between four pantries.
Funding for WIC is delivered to the county through a federal grant.