WASHINGTON -- North Carolina has reversed its decision to stop issuing baby formula vouchers because of the federal government shutdown, the state Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday evening.
Department director Aldona Wos said the state had secured contingency funds and money left over from the previous fiscal year to reopen the program, according to WRAL.com.
"By securing sufficient funds, we are able to continue supporting the women and children who depend on WIC," Wos said. "Our state is one of the highest volume states for the WIC program so we take the impact of the shutdown very seriously."
On Tuesday, the state said it had run out of money to issue new benefits under the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, cutting off about 50,000 poor women and children. The WIC program gives pregnant women and new moms vouchers to buy healthy food and baby formula.
The congressional budget impasse and subsequent government shutdown hobbled WIC at the national level, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the program, said at the outset it would help states keep WIC going for a short time. Last week four other states went through the same process of partially closing their WIC programs, then reopening them after an influx of federal funds; North Carolina came late to the party.
Tuesday's announcement had sent some struggling moms scrambling to fill an unexpected deficit in their food budgets.
"People who really do need help are getting it taken away because Congress can't come to an agreement," one Wilmington mom told HuffPost.
If the shutdown drags into November, WIC programs in many states could be in trouble again.