Mountains

Shutdown casts shadow on poor moms, kids

By Tobie Baker Journal staff writer

The federal government shut down could soon cost the local economy approximately $185,000 every day because of lost grocery store sales alone.

The Colorado Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is responsible for adding more than $5 million in sales at authorized grocery stores across the state. That adds up to $185,000 that will not be going into local economies every day of the federal shutdown, now entering its second week.

A federal nutrition program for pregnant women and children up to five years old, the WIC program at the Montezuma County Health Department has enough funding to maintain normal operations through Oct. 31. Some 600 county residents depend on the program.

“WIC is open,” said Montezuma County Health Department official Lori Montaño. “We have funding for staff and food through the end of October.”

Unless the federal government resumes operations or some other remedy is in place, the Colorado WIC program is not likely to be able to serve participants in November, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“We are considering our options,” said Patricia Daniluk, state nutrition services director. “This federal shutdown is unprecedented, and there currently are many unknowns. We are, first and foremost, doing our best to meet the nutritional needs of the more than 95,000 women and children WIC serves.”

State officials are monitoring the financial situation on a day-to-day basis to determine the best course of action. The funds to support operations during October come from savings from the previous fiscal year and a small amount of contingency funds provided this week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

WIC participants are encouraged to keep their WIC appointments and continue redeeming their checks for the month of October, Montaño said.

For every dollar spent on WIC, up to $3 is saved in medical costs, because health-care costs are reduced because of the decrease in the number of low birth-weight babies.

More than 300 children are born in Montezuma County annually.

Information and updates are being posted to the WIC alerts page at www.ColoradoWIC.com.

tbaker@cortezjournal.com

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