Government shutdown could soon have impact on family WIC program in Cuyahoga County

WIC program for women, chldren could soon be hurt

CLEVELAND - Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald reports the federal government shutdown is starting to have a big impact on northeast Ohio.

Fitzgerald pointed to federal job furloughs at NASA Glenn Research Center, the Ohio National Guard and at the Veterans Administration.

The county executive also expressed concern for federally-funded assistance programs like WIC, which provides nutritional aid for women, infants and children. Fitzgerald told NewsChannel5 the government shutdown has WIC using contingency funds to continue to support 31,000 northeast Ohio mothers, but those dollars will soon run out.

"We're looking at the real possibility that those dollars that are going to provide basic nutrition for infants in this community could run out within a matter of a few weeks," Fitzgerald said.

"This is no way to run a government; it's no way to run a program. It's already costing us millions of dollars; it's not saving money because this has led to incredible inefficiencies just in the way that these programs are operated."

Georgette Lewis is a Cleveland mother who depends on WIC to help her feed her three children. Georgette is concerned her assistance will stop if the government shutdown continues.

"It's real scary. It's very scary for me and my kids, like I worry about it," Lewis said. "What's going to happen? How hard is it going to be to do well for my kids?"

MetroHealth WIC General Manager of Public Health Barbara Riley told NewsChannel5 dozens of concerned mothers have called the Broadway WIC office since the government shutdown took place.

"We're very fortunate that we have some contingency funds that will allow us to operate through the month of October," Riley said. "But people are concerned. We're trying to field those calls and let them know it's business as usual."

More information about the WIC program can be found on the Ohio Department of Health website.

Meanwhile, Lewis has a message for leaders on Capitol Hill.

"They need to get it together and think how we feel, look at us, the people that are down below them, how hard it is on us," Lewis said. "Stop thinking of themselves and think about us."

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