By MARK NEWMAN
Courier staff writer
---- — OTTUMWA — A dietitian in Wapello County called a rescue Thursday "good news" for area moms and babies.
Cindy Meiners, the local WIC coordinator, had worried Tuesday that lack of funding could have a negative impact; October WIC checks had been put on hold, and the agency would not be able to print any new vouchers for the rest of the month.
"The USDA freed up some leftover money from [fiscal year] 2013, and we are able to issue October WIC checks," Meiners told the Courier on Thursday. "So we're funded through October."
Each year, the program offices are required to send any unused food dollars back, said a representative of the Iowa Department of Public Health.
"The USDA has informed the Iowa WIC program they will be returning that [leftover] money so food checks may be printed for participants who have not yet received their October food benefits."
Meiners said there are only certain items that can be purchased with WIC money, all in a healthy food category. When they had to turn people away earlier this week after the announcement of the shutdown, she worried for mothers and their children.
"This is good news," she said.
At this time, said a statement from the Iowa Department of Public Health, the only checks printed will be for participants who have not yet received payments that have a "first date to use" in October.
"It is hoped the government shutdown will end by November and funding will be available at that time to print additional checks," said the statement.
WIC clinics are scheduled to contact those individuals who have visited the clinic since the federal shutdown began on Tuesday. They'll be able to explain to participants how to receive their checks.
The IDPH has requested that WIC participants contact their local agency with questions.