GREENSBORO, N.C. -- This week, hundreds of Triad families were forced to decide between paying their bills or putting food on the table. Late Thursday night, that all changed when the WIC program was restored, allowing mothers like Christen McNeil to breath a big sigh of relief.
"My child needs his milk, his eggs, his cheese, his bread, all that, all the nutritional stuff he needs to make him grow," said McNeil, referring to her three-year-old son, Tristen.
Without her WIC vouchers, McNeil didn't know where that food would come from. She hasn't received her vouchers in two months.
After a problem with her application last month and the government shutdown this month, she's been forced to make some tough decisions. "I was struggling to pay bills and keep food in my house with the little money I get from my job," said McNeil. "It was very difficult. "Knowing that I don't have to come out of pocket to spend for food anymore because I can get my vouchers to take care of everything I need to get for him, it was a big relief, a major relief."
"We're glad that business is as usual as of this morning," said Guilford County WIC Director Rebecca Gilliland.
WIC employees will be working into Saturday to print up and mail out hundreds of vouchers put on hold this week. "Our first priority is to get food benefits mailed to them that were on the waiting list for the past two days," said Gilliland.
"Even though it's hard, I know I have somebody to look up to me every day, I know I have somebody to live for," said McNeil. "Even on days when I feel like I want to give up, I know I can't because I've gotta live for him."
McNeil says she was forced to ask family, friends and the food bank for help the past couple of months.
Agencies who manage the WIC programs in their county hopes to have the remaining vouchers that were put on hold, sent out by early next week.
The WIC program serves about 9 million people across the country, every month. It serves low-income pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women and infants and children up to age five.
The Guilford County WIC Director said more than half of all babies born in the US, benefit from WIC. To be eligible, a family of four must make less than $42,643 annually.
As for the cost, Congress set aside $6.6 billion for the program last year.