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WIC Offering Benefits to Federal Employees Affected by Shutdown
By Jennifer Bihm, Contributing Writer
Published January 24, 2019

WIC is offering food vouchers for families with children affected by the Federal Government Shutdown (file photo)

Federal employees who have been affected by the recent government shutdown are eligible for supplemental food from the Women Infants and Children program in Los Angeles and Oranges counties, said program director, Kiran Saluja. To take advantage of the program, families must be expecting, breastfeeding or have children between the ages of one through five. The offer lasts as long as the furlough will last, Saluja told the Sentinel.

The partial shutdown, stemming from a stalemate over whether President Donald Trump could get over $5 billion to build a wall along the U.S./ Mexico border. Despite attempted negotiations, Trump said he will veto any bill that does not include wall funding.

This month, a Democratic led House voted to approve an appropriations bill without wall funding.

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So far, about 380,000 federal employees were furloughed, and an additional 420,000 employees for affected agencies were expected to work with their pay delayed until the end of the shutdown, totaling 800,000 workers affected out of 2.1 million civilian non-postal federal employees.

FBI agents, Federal corrections officers, FDA food inspectors, NASA employees, TSA staff, Border Patrol staff and CBP officers, census staff, National Park Service staff, members of the Coast Guard and Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controllers are either working without pay or furloughed. On January 11, 800,000 workers for agencies shutdown or furloughed missed their first paycheck since the shutdown began. Federal workers normally receive pay on federal holidays, which include Christmas, New Year’s Day and potentially Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The shutdown has affected the employees’ entitlement to paid holidays due to the shutdown.

“California has the largest number of federal employees that could be affected by the shutdown — nearly 144,000,” said WIC officials
“Currently, California has over 41,000 employees who stopped receiving a paycheck as of last Friday, January 11, 2019. These families may be eligible for WIC, and they would NOT be required to pay back any benefits received.”

“Families with children and who are expecting really need the nutritious food that WIC provides,” Saluja said.

WIC will provide vouchers for foods like milk, cheese, whole grain bread, tuna, cereal and fruit.

The WIC Program recommends that the following messages be widely communicated, Saluja said:

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• Families of unemployed federal employees may be eligible for WIC services.

• WIC agencies continue to operate as usual. WIC is open for business and WIC staff are ready to help eligible low-income families with pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, and children up to the age of five.

• Authorized food vendors (grocery stores) will continue to accept WIC checks as usual so that WIC families can continue to access healthy foods.

• In California, the WIC Program has enough reserve funding to operate at least through March.

• The USDA has communicated that they plan to undertake measures to identify and provide additional funding to WIC agencies if necessary.

Categories: Business | Economy | Family | Finance | Lifestyle | National | News (Business) | News (Family) | Political
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