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WIC Funding at Risk, Tennessee Mothers Worried

By Natalie Potts
By npotts@wbbjtv.com

JACKSON, Tenn.- Thousands of pregnant mothers, single parents and children across West Tennessee are worried about funding for Tennessee's Women, Infants and Children (WIC) amid the government shutdown.

Tennessee Department of Health officials said the federal program is currently running on reserve funds and has enough to operate through October.

WIC is funded through the United States Department of Agriculture, and is designed to provide supplemental food to low income pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, infants and children younger than five years old.

The Tennessee Department of Health provides the services in 140 county health department locations and hospital sites. Officials said the program serves around 165,000 eligible participants each month in Tennessee. Parents said they believe the program is at risk should the funding run out before the government reopens.

"We really need it I mean it's hard out here right now for a single parent it's not that easy," single mother Chanvondra Robertson said. "I mean that is a big deal to me because the milk is so high and I struggle sometimes with my kids."

"I have been on WIC for all 3 of my children and I've seen the vouchers of how much it costs when they ring up formula and it's outrageous," mother Michele Powell said. "It's a good $100 or a check; a lot of mothers need it."

In the event that the current Tennessee WIC funding is exhausted, officials said staff members will notify all participants and vendors in advance of the date with specific instructions for the use of their WIC vouchers.

"Parents need this, it's not a choice they have to have it," WIC participant Troy Hockaday said. "Families need cheese, families need cereal for their kids and they have to have it like they don't have no other resources to get it. If they shut down it's probably going to bring the crime rate up a little bit."

Contact your local Health Department for more information.
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