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Shutdown Affecting State WIC Programs

Funding is quickly drying up for local Women, Infants and Children programs across the state.
PHILIPSBURG, CENTRE COUNTY - Funding is quickly drying up for local Women, Infants and Children programs across the state, all because of the government shutdown.

Low-income mothers and pregnant women who rely on government assistance to buy food may not be able to do that soon.

WIC Programs across the state are still operating normally, but representatives say without congressional approval of new spending, there won't be any funds available.

It's not just the WIC program that may be affected.

"This office is open four days a wee and we can see anywhere between five and 25 people in that amount of time," Toni Kovach said.

Kovach loves helping others, but says helping others may soon become too difficult.

"I would see more people coming to us for services and baby formula," she said.

Kovach works for LifeLine Infant and Pregnancy Services, located in Clearfield and Philipsburg. It's a non-profit organization, similar to the national WIC program, providing services to pregnant women and their infant children.

She worries if WIC shuts down, more women will come to her group and they may not have enough to support the need.

"Everything we have here in our office, probably 98-percent of it is donated to us," Kovach said. "We purchase very little and if the donations don't come in, we don't have it to provide."

"There are about 260,000 Pennsylvanian's that rely on the WIC program," Representative Scott Conklin's Chief of Staff, Tor Michael, said.

Local representatives say because of the government shutdown, statewide WIC service funds are on hold. There is about $25 million in the reserve budget, but Michael predicts that fund will dry up quickly.

"Pennsylvania spends about $3-4 million a week on this program," he said. "We're hoping that Washington would get together and find some sort of resolution to all of this."

Because if they don't, other programs, like Kovach's, may become too overwhelmed and could shutdown as well, leaving single moms and their children with no help, at all.

"I would sure hope those families would be on the minds of those in Washington because what they do has a very direct and somewhat hurtful effect on those that are most vulnerable," Michael said.

WIC programs are still open and operating statewide at this time.

For more information on their services, click here. For more information on Life Line services, click here.
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