Government Shutdown Will Affect Food Programs

GREENSBORO, N.C. - North Carolina's supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children, commonly called WIC, will shut down this month when funding runs out.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports the program is 100 percent federally funded and provides food, health care referrals and education to 264,000 people every month. WFMY News 2 asked DHHS when the WIC program will run out of funds, but a spokesperson said the agency is still waiting for more information from the federal government.

When WIC runs out of money, people will likely turn to food banks like Urban Ministry in Greensboro. Unemployment issues and problems with the state's food stamp system have already driven more people there. The group used to serve about 50 people a day at the food bank. Now, that number has doubled.

Urban Ministry is watching Washington to see what happens with WIC and other nutrition programs.

One staff member heard a lawmaker say people won't have to worry about going hungry because food banks and churches will fill in the gaps.

"It's frustrating and it's irritating. It makes you think that people that make those statements don't understand what the government has been providing and don't understand the supply this is available in their communities," Greensboro Urban Ministry Director of Programs Mark Sumerford said.

At Open Door Ministries in High Point, leaders are also preparing to serve more people.The shelves may look stocked now, but if people start lining up, the food could go fast.

"We don't really know what's going to happen in the next several days...the next several weeks or what the impact is going to be on our community. But, it's certainly one that presents a lot of challenges for what's ahead," Executive Director Steve Key said.

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