No WIC shutdown! Nationwide emergency funding now!
The recent government shutdown shows us what the politicians see as “essential” versus “non-essential” programs. Suffice to say that women, poor people and children—the most vulnerable people in society—are “non-essential” to the politicians who care more about stopping legislation that would give millions of people access to affordable healthcare through the Affordable Care Act than they do about the lives of women and their children.
The shutdown will effectively suspend $7 billion dollars in funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). The WIC program serves around 9 million women in this country with nutrition programs, food vouchers and breastfeeding support.
The shutdown will mean that WIC centers across the country may begin to close down as soon as they run out of funds. While some states have made arrangements to protect funding for WIC through October 31, no plan exists at the federal level to guarantee funding. The USDA is allowing states to access additional funds to keep programs running for the rest of October; however, the programs will still “face funding shortfalls” and each state must make its own arrangement for funds. This may mean disaster for the millions of low-income women and children who depend on the WIC voucher program for food.
WIC food vouchers allow women to buy items such as milk, cereal, fruits and vegetables for their families. WIC also provides infant formula vouchers for nursing mothers. On average, formula costs $15 per can and lasts only a few days. Without these vouchers, many mothers will have no way of feeding their newborns, leaving mothers who cannot breastfeed with no options or other safety net to turn to. For many women who live in small towns, the loss of a WIC center means that they will not have access to clinical services unless they travel further distances into bigger cities, which can often prove very difficult.
The shutdown has also forced Head Start programs to close across the United States as funds run out. Head Start provides early childhood education and serves as affordable childcare for countless poor and working women.
The shutdown proves that the politicians don’t care about the lives of women or their children. To them, we are just pawns to be maneuvered in the game of political chess. The Republican Party is to blame for forcing this shutdown, but the Democratic Party is equally guilty for allowing poor families to suffer as they point fingers at the Republicans to win political points in future elections while doing nothing to aid suffering families until the shutdown is over.
WORD (Women Organized to Resist and Defend) knows that we cannot leave our lives in the hands of the politicians, because time and time again they remind us that neither our lives nor the lives of our children matter to them. We believe that we must demand our rights.
We are circulating a petition that demands that the federal government provide funding for these programs during the shutdown because no one’s life should be on the line in the name of political posturing.