South Carolina's Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) was informed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Monday that the Women, Infant, and Children program is considered "non-essential" under the shutdown and will not receive federal funding.
This means that more than 125,000 women, infants and children in the state may soon lose access to the federal program.
Conway resident Scarlett Russell has
used WIC to supplement what she buys at the grocery store, because she doesn't make enough money at her job. She's
been feeding her children through WIC since 2011, a routine she's pretty used to.
"Fill out a paper, you sit and wait, they call your number. They take you back, check the kids, see how much their iron is, if it's low or high then see what you want, milk, cheese or do you want extra milk," Russell explained.
But when she went in to the Department of Health and Environmental Control in Conway on Wednesday, they told her something else that by October 15th, the program will shut down.
"What will it mean? It will be hard on the babies because they're not going to get what they need. Russell's mother Helen Huggins is also very concerned. "My grandbabies, they can drink up their formula, they love their formula and without it, the kids won't be healthy."
For the time being, Russell and Huggins are just hoping the the federal government will make a move.
The US Department of Agriculture is the federal agency that funds the WIC program. On the state level, it's the Department of Health (DHEC) that distributes the vouchers.
DHEC's spokesman said they're relying on their own reserve funding to keep the program alive but that will end in about two weeks. After that, they're hoping the USDA will release money for the program.
Vouchers that are issued before October 15th will still be honored by WIC-approved vendors.