Thursday, December 8, 2022

Shutdown impacts spread in New Hanover; baby formula donations sought

Effects of the federal government shutdown have spread to New Hanover County’s Women, Infants & Children program, just days after the county cut a number of programs to offset lost revenue.

In an email to the board of commissioners this week, County Manager Chris Coudriet said the health department would no longer be accepting applications for participation in the WIC program, noting the program’s current case load of 3,700 participants would be able to be funded through October.

“Should these dollars go away in the next few weeks, the direct benefit impact is on the order of $56,000 per week when compared to prior year funding,” he said.

In a press release, the health department announced that effective Wednesday the WIC program would no longer be issuing vouchers and that clients would be placed on a waiting list.

“WIC clients who have been issued WIC vouchers can still use them to get food and infant formula at local vendors, and should only come to the Health Department for their scheduled appointments,” the release states.

In a follow-up release issued Thursday afternoon, the department encouraged individuals and groups to donate infant formula to help those unable to get WIC vouchers.

“Due to the limitation of federal funds, participants in the WIC (Women Infants and Children) Program are unable to receive vouchers that can be used for infant formula and healthy foods,” the release states.

“Current WIC clients need to keep all scheduled appointments in order to be placed on the waiting list and to remain eligible for WIC vouchers when funding resumes. New applicants will be placed on a waiting list and be notified when vouchers can be issued.”

Donations of any kind of infant formula—generic or brand name, in concentrated or powder forms—can be dropped off at the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina at Wilmington , located at 1314 Marstellar St. in Wilmington.

The food bank will then distribute donations to its main distribution sites: Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard (Wilmington), First Fruit Ministries (Wilmington), Federal Point (Carolina Beach) and Bethany Presbyterian Church (Castle Hayne).

Late last week, the county announced it was eliminating federally funded adult daycare and child daycare services, suspending federally funded social services contracts, suspending all capital outlay purchases for 90 days, and freezing all vacant positions in the county’s general fund to offset $300,000 in lost weekly revenue.

Related story: Federal shutdown prompts New Hanover to cut services, offset weekly revenue loss

In his letter to commissioners, Coudriet also notes he has received a request from Wave Transit asking the City of Wilmington and/or New Hanover County to pass a resolution “back-stopping its federal funding challenge.”

“WAVE too is affected by the shutdown and cannot draw down its federal funds,” Coudriet told the board. “Unless directed otherwise, I intend to let WAVE know that I do not intend to bring such a resolution forward, as it is our administrative policy to not replace federal funds with county funds.”

Related story: No deal: Federal government shuts down

Jonathan Spiers is a reporter for Port City Daily. He can be reached at (910) 772-6313 or jonathan.s@portcitydaily.com. On Twitter: @jrspiers

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