Government shutdown jeopardizing WIC program

HOT SPRINGS (KATV) - As the government shutdown approaches its 10th day the clock is ticking on a program that affects nearly 90,000 Arkansans.

Low-income mothers and their infants may need to fend for themselves if Congress doesn't renew spending for WIC.

MacKenzie LaCore, like most one-year-olds, doesn't care about much more than her toys and food. But little carefree MacKenzie may be the latest victim in the government shutdown that's grappled the nation for nearly two weeks now.

"That's an assistance that I didn't think would ever be taken away," said Ashley LaCore, MacKenzie's mother.

LaCore depends on the government nutrition program, women infants and children, also known as WIC, to buy baby formula for MacKenzie. But the funding has dried out since the shutdown.

"They don't think about the people that they're affecting," she said.

And there are thousands of people to think about. Over 23,595 infants, 42,105 children, and 22,039 woman and that's just in Arkansas.

"What am I going to do?" said LaCore.

That's a question the Arkansas Department of Health can't quite answer. They're anxiously waiting on congressional approval for new spending, without it their funds will dry out by the end of October. In a statement they sent to us they said the following:

"The Arkansas Department of Health continues to carefully monitor the WIC program in Arkansas on a daily basis. If an agreement is not reached at the Federal level soon the program will be impacted and infants, young children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers will not receive the important nutritional supplements they need."

LaCore doesn't have much hope lawmakers will resolve their differences.

"The government is in it for themselves," said LaCore.

So she says she's prepared to make tough choices in the likely event a decision isn't made soon.

"If I have to go without food then that's what I'm going to do for my daughter," she said.

According the National WIC Association, Arkansas would suffer the most dire consequences of any other state in the country if the program doesn't get funding.

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