The Summit County Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, a 100 percent federally-funded program which was shut down Oct. 1, now has the funding it needs to operate through October and, if necessary, November.
On Wednesday, the Summit County Council approved an impromptu resolution that will grant WIC $5,200 per week throughout the rest of October to keep staff paid and to give food to non-vouchered clients. The county WIC program has 624 clients; however, 89 were not able to receive their October vouchers before the WIC offices closed.
If the federal government shutdown continues into November, the county has agreed to appropriate $10,800 per week to sustain WIC, which would help to pay staff and give food to all clients.
The state's WIC program received $2.5 million in emergency funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which will keep the program fully running through the end of October, according to Utah Department of Health press release. On Tuesday, Salt Lake County approved a resolution keeping its county's WIC program functioning for another week.
Summit County Council Chair Claudia McMullin said she was inspired by Salt Lake County's action in her decision to commit funds on behalf of Summit County. On Wednesday morning, she said she called up County Manager Bob Jasper to see if funds could be appropriated to WIC.
"I said we need to institute an emergency funding of the WIC program and make sure nobody goes without food and baby formula," McMullin said, who added that funds were moved from the county's contingency budget. "I knew we had enough [money] to cover at least a month. I think we have enough to fund two months."
WIC's emergency food supplements in October will consist of the weekly purchase of non-perishable foods to be sent to clients as well as $400 to be sent to local food banks per week to help obtain perishable food items.
Summit County Health Department Director Rich Bullough said the approved emergency funding should allow for a seamless transition for WIC back to providing its regular services.
"We will try our best to continue [providing] services in a way that clients won't know there's been a change," Bullough said.
The county is working with food banks such as Community Action Services and Food Bank and the Christian Center of Park City to help distribute food to those in need. Community Action Communications Director Craig Severinsen said their facility has plenty of food.
"We're doing what we always do, and that is getting people out of poverty," Severinsen said. "The food bank is one aspect of that. As these clients come to us, we're doing what we normally do, just on a larger and accelerated scale with these people."
Severinsen added that, because of the government shutdown, there are also furloughed members of the military that are utilizing Community Action's services, which also includes housing assistance and family development programs.
To WIC clients, Severinsen said, "We want them to know there's hope and help. We'll help you through this tough time. We're in it together."
Rob Harter, Executive Director of the Christian Center of Park City, said the county is sending WIC clients to their food bank and that his organization is "happy to help."
"We've ordered $800 of diapers and formula," Harter said, adding that those items are in demand. "We have extra [food] that we normally don't have at this time of year. We are ready."
Bullough said that, during a conference call with the state two days ago, he was advised to put up signs at the WIC office saying it was closed. If the county had not approved funding, he said the situation would have been horrible.
"There absolutely would have been clients, many of them infants that would go without the services that WIC provides. That's not OK. I'm really impressed at the way the community has stepped up," Bullough said.
For those clients who need prescription infant formula, Bullough said the Health Dept. will work with the state to ensure clients receive what they need.
Commenting on the federal government shutdown leaving women, infants and children without the services that WIC provides, McMullin had some harsh words.
"I think it's disgusting. I think it's abhorrent, and I think it's a travesty," McMullin said.
For those in need or interested in donating, visit or contact:
Christian Center of Park City 1283 Deer Valley Dr., 435-649-2260, open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Community Action Services and Food Bank 30 S. Main St., Kamas; 435-783-4303; 17 Hoytsville Rd., Coalville; 435-336-4277