State budget impasse threatens WIC program

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OAK LAWN, Ill. -- The budget impasse in Springfield threatens to halt a program that provides nutritional services for needy women, infants and children in Illinois. The community action agency that operates the state's largest WIC program is already feeling the impact.

CEDA (the Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County, Inc.) WIC was able to cover its expenses for the first month of the state budget crisis, but now the program is facing a crisis itself. The agency has cut staff hours, and that means serving mothers and children has become much harder.

At this rate the agency expects to shut down in two weeks.

As of August 1, 50,000 women and children have faced barriers to accessing food vouchers and special formula for sick infants from the CEDA WIC program, which is funded by the USDA to provide supplemental nutrition focused on healthy eating.

CEDA operates 19 WIC clinics in the Chicago area that offer personalized nutritional counseling, group education and breast feeding counseling.

While the program has received a contract from the Department of Human Services that guarantees funding for the new fiscal year, these funds are being held up in Springfield until a budget can be passed or legislation to allow federal funds to be processed is approved.

In the meantime, WIC maintains that it will be forced to close 19 clinics in Cook County.

WIC generates food vouchers worth $23 million annually, all spent at local groceries.

The program provides financially insecure families with sick infants special formula at a deep discount. Those formulas cost hundreds of dollars monthly elsewhere. Regular infant formula is not available at food pantries. These programs are the source of formula for many mothers.

WGN obtained a letter that was sent to James Dimas, Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services. It was written by Tim English, the Regional Administrator of the Midwest Region of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service.

The letter reads:  "I want to remind you that Federal administrative funds are intended to support State administration of the Supplemental Food Programs, such as administrative oversight, compliance, technical assistance, local operations and participant benefits. DHS, as the State Agency, must fully comply with federal law as well as the Federal-State agreements which govern the operation of each FNS program within the state of Illinois."

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5 comments

  • Dan Cox

    Oh My. let’s all look at the point of focus, that the Chicago Media wants us to focus on… the poor Welfare Recipients! HELLO…the entire State of Illinois is in a financial crisis and so is the city of Chicago. We are going to see a depression in the State of Illinois and it will affect every single person, living or working here. It has happened because of people spending money that we do not have to spend, for decades. Those people are the Democrats, the Chicago Machine, the Combine. It is already too late to save this state, it is going to be swallowed up in debt and a mass exodus of residents is underway right now. Every person who leaves, will take their money with them and only the Welfare Recipients will be left…what then?

  • mrsgray621

    I honestly don’t believe that the government is even messing with WIC program, I was once there using WIC to take care of my son, I was unable to work because of injuries and even though I had a little money coming in, it still wasn’t enough..I was very thankful that I didn’t have to pay for those expensive cans of milk by myself! This program helps out the children and babies and they shouldn’t have to be in the middle of this big mess! “Looking at this from a women’s point of view “

    • MrsLisa

      I agree with you. I also received WIC when I was pregnant. I am NOT a welfare queen, as some like to assume of anyone who receives government assistance, I was laid-off from my job when I was 3 months pregnant. I made a VERY nice salary, however with mounting bills I had to get help. I hate to see this program end. I know the state is in a mess financially, but seriously cutting these types of programs is outrageous!

  • elc

    the program is federally funded…so how does the state not having a budget have ANYTHING to do with it it? Read the article USDA funded program. I call BS on this article.