Congressman David Price, speaking to a group of reporters today at an on-the-record lunch in downtown Raleigh, said that he still had concerns about North Carolina temporarily suspended issuing WIC vouchers in the course of the federal government shutdown.
“It seems like they were eager to cut them off,” Price said, comparing North Carolina’s decision to suspend issuing new formula and nutritional food vouchers to other states.
Price is a Democrat from Chapel Hill.
N.C. Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos announced on Oct. 8 that her department would stop issuing new vouchers for food and infant formula because WIC (Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants and Children) had exhausted federal funding and couldn’t continue as a result of the governmental shutdown. It was the only state to do so, with other states leaning on U.S Department of Agriculture contingency funds and promises of repayment to keep the program running.
The program was restored the evening of Oct 10, after N.C. Policy Watch reported (click here) that North Carolina was the only state to suspend the benefits with other states leaning on U.S. Department of Agriculture offers of contingency dollars. Wos sent out a release saying the agency was using donated formula coupons and other monies to cover the cost of the WIC program during the course of the federal shutdown.
DHHS spokesman Ricky Diaz told another media outlet that the USDA-provided funding was not enough to cover North Carolina’s expenses, and it wasn’t until last Thursday that the agency was able to secure enough funding.
The shutdown ended yesterday, and with it programs like WIC were restored to their normal operations. Price said he has not received a response to a letter he and two other Democratic members of the North Carolina’s congressional delegation sent to Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, with questions about the WIC and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, a welfare-type benefits program that provides emergency help to families.
North Carolina stopped taking TANF applications Monday, a few days before the federal shutdown ended.
On Friday, Price questioned why the federal government’s assurance that states would be reimbursed was good enough for 49 other states, but not North Carolina.
“Something’s really wrong here,” Price said. “Really wrong.”