Recipients of WIC react to a contingency program put in place during the government shutdown

The thought of not having enough money for food is chilling.

“I’m going to have to find ways to come up with the money,” says 34-year-old Ashley Barr from Pitssburg who has a four-month-old daughter.

“Unfortunately, it’s probably going to dip into our Christmas fund,” says Barr.

That’s if a nutrition program for low-income moms and children, called WIC, is temporarily shut down. Money for this program is dispersed by the federal government to each state, and the stability of each state’s WIC program now varies.

“I wasn’t aware that they were having problems,” says Barr.

In Kansas, where Barr lives, things are fine for the time being. But the state now has a contingency plan for distributing WIC monies.

“On the check it says, do not use ‘before’…and then it’ll have October. ‘Do not use’ after…say it says October 30th. As long as that first date has the month of October, and any date in October, you’re fine,” explains Betha Elliott with the Cherokee County Health Department.

There’s more than 2,000 WIC recipients in Cherokee, Montgomery, and Labette counties alone. Kansas state officials believe even during this time of not receiving federal money for WIC programs, there’s going to be enough state money already set aside to cover, during the month of October, the 70,000 WIC recipients across Kansas.

After October, if there’s still a government shutdown, Elliott says, “Maybe there’ll be some help at food pantries, churches. Just whatever. It’s really hard to say what people could use for a backup.”

Ashley Barr has another child who is 5-years-old, and a part time job. But she says things are still tough.

“I will sacrifice whatever I can, to make sure my kids get that they need,” says Barr.

But Barr says for others, a tough situation could get worse.

“Some people, right now, I’ve heard they don’t get proper feedings, just to stretch those nine cans (of formula) a month,” says Barr.

Cherokee County Health Department workers say they’re trying to ease a lot of confusion that may even increase in the coming weeks. Click here for a link of resources set up by the Cherokee County Health Department.

Meanwhile, workers with the Newton County Health Department in Missouri also say their WIC program is open for business. Click here for resources set up by the Newton County Health Department.