WIC program extended in Louisiana despite government shutdown

From the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH)

Louisiana's Women, Infants and Children Program, commonly called WIC, will be funded until the end of the month of October, using funds set aside from the prior fiscal year, the Department of Health and Hospitals announced Thursday.

The federal U.S. Department of Agriculture previously advised DHH these funds could not be accessed during the federal government shutdown. On Wednesday, the USDA contacted DHH and said these funds would be reallocated for use in the current fiscal year.

Per the USDA, all of Louisiana WIC's food costs and administrative functions will be covered by the USDA, enabling the program to provide benefits for current participants as well as new applicants until the end of October.

As a result, DHH will provide WIC participants with a full month of benefits for October, not a partial month, as participants previously had been advised. Participants who received partial WIC benefits on October 1 and October 2 will have to return to their local WIC office to receive the rest of their October benefits.

Additionally, the program will be able to accept new applicants during October.

Grocery stores and other businesses that accept WIC are being advised that they should honor the WIC vouchers until the end of October. The federally funded program serves an average of 140,000 total individuals, including mothers, infants and children up to the age of five, per month in Louisiana.