The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), is a federally funded program which provides Hawaii residents with supplemental foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding promotion and health and social service referrals.
“We are pretty confident we are going to be able to operate as usual,” said Linda Chock, state Department of Health WIC services branch chief, on Monday.
This would be no small relief for families with young children in need. In Hawaii in the month of August 2013, the program served 36,625 people, and the food vouchers and products were valued at $1,927,748.
At the Kalihi-Palama Health Center, WIC director Ginny Coe was in good spirits. The program was still providing vouchers, and clients should keep their appointments, she said.
Coe noted that on-base clinics such as Fort Shafter are closed, but that clients can go to another location. Commissaries were expected to be closed (Hickam AFB Commissary would be closed on Tuesday, for example), but military clients can cash checks at regular stores.
“We get the money from the federal government and we administer the program here in Hawaii,” Chock says, noting that every state is different.
Congress established the program in 1972 and it was permanently authorized in 1974. At least one state, Utah, was not enrolling new WIC clients due to the government shutdown.
Chock explains, “What we’re relying on is what money we had from last fiscal year,” and some rebates from formula companies. She would not say specifically how much money the program had to run on.
“We’re pretty comfortable.”
The Hawaii WIC program has posted the following to their website:
HAWAII WIC IS OPEN. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS SHUT DOWN, BUT HAWAII WIC CONTINUES TO SERVE CLIENTS UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. FORT SHAFTER AND SCHOFIELD ARE THE ONLY WIC OFFICES CLOSED. FORT SHAFTER CLIENTS SHOULD CONTACT THE KALIHI PALAMA WIC OFFICE AND SCHOFIELD CLIENTS SHOULD CONTACT THE WAHIAWA WIC OFFICE. COMMISSARIES ARE CLOSED, BUT WIC CHECKS CAN BE USED AT ANY WIC APPROVED GROCERY STORE STATEWIDE. PLEASE CONTACT YOUR WIC LOCAL AGENCY LISTED ON YOUR IDENTIFICATION FOLDER IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS.