WIC cuts won’t hurt food program in Minnesota

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A federal program that helps poor mothers buy food took a hit in last week’s budget deal in Washington. In the deal that averted a government shutdown, federal lawmakers cut $504 million from the Women, Infants, and Children program.

But those cuts won’t affect the WIC program in Minnesota, said Betsy Clark, WIC progarm director for the state. She wants to make sure news of the deal doesn’t deter mothers from applying for benefits.

“We will continue to serve everyone who applies for WIC who is eligible,” Clark said. “We think the revised [funding] level will be adequate for the current fiscal year because the birthrate is dropping and our participation is somewhat reduced,” she said. “And we haven’t had much food inflation yet, though we’re execting that fairly soon.”

WIC provides food aid to pregnant women, new mothers and their children. This year, it will serve about 9.3 million people natiownwide and cost about $7.2 billion.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the cuts can be made to reserve funds.

Both the House and Senate are expected to vote Thursday on the last-minute deal. Overall, it cuts about $28 billion from the government for this fiscal year, ending on Sept. 30.