Nearly 46,000 West Virginians who use the Special Supplemental Nutritional Program for Women, Infants and Children, more commonly known as WIC, may loose assistance if the government shutdown continues to loom.
WIC is a federally funded program that provides prenatal care for expectant mothers and food coupons for low income families with small children under the age of five. However, because of the government shutdown there is no new money going into this fund. Every WIC program in the country must rely on saved funds, which the Department of Health and Human Resources estimates will last until the end of the week.
Two mothers who are part of the program said if funding continues to freeze, the outcome would be devastating to their families.
With WIC, "I get milk, eggs, cereal, cheese," said Raina Brown, a Charleston resident and mother of two.
Raina Brown is a West Virginia mother struggling to make ends meet so she counts on WIC to help feed her family. She has a four-year-old daughter, one-year-old son and a baby on the way.
"You have to pay bills and everything, then you run out of money paying everything and you can't buy formula for your kid," she said.
Today, baby formula costs upwards of $25. Those in the WIC program are given baby formula for free, saving them hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
"It does help a lot," Brown said.
Through her WIC card, Brown is able to buy milk, cheese, eggs, fruit and vegetables. She said it is essential nutrition for her children.
Although the government shutdown is affecting funding for the program, those like Brown benefiting from WIC will not see immediate effects. Each state's program will continue to use money collected in order to fund the program. Yet a lack of new funding means the money could run out.
"When they're little like that and you don't have anyone else to help you, that's your way of feeding your kids," said Jennifer Davis, a mother in Charleston who has a three-year-old son. Davis benefited from WIC when her son was an infant.
"It's not about the parents getting on WIC. It's about their kids because some people need help," she said.
The West Virginia Office of Nutrition Services recently received around $437,000 from the USDA.
This money will help continue to fund the state's WIC program until the government shutdown is resolved.