RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The White House is warning that nearly seven million Americans could lose access to critical nutrition assistance programs if Congress fails to reach an agreement to fund the government past the Sept. 30 deadline.
A spokesperson for the White House said 127,000 women, infants and children rely on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC) in Virginia.
If a shutdown begins, the White House said the program would run out of reserve funding in just a few days.
“We are talking about new mothers with infants and young children who use WIC to buy things like formula, milk and fresh produce,” said Sarah Steely, Director of No Kid Hungry Virginia.
Steely said that without WIC, families would be forced to make difficult decisions.
“No family should have to make a choice between buying food or paying a medical bill, or buying food and keeping the lights on and I think we’ll see some of those tradeoffs come to the surface if this happens,” Steely said.
Although WIC recipients would lose their benefits in the event of a shutdown, the nearly 900,000 Virginians who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) should still get their benefits for at least a month.
“All signs point to October benefits still going out,” Steely said. “Now, if the shutdown goes longer than that, we are not quite sure about the impacts for November, so that’s one of the question marks.”
In addition, over 350,000 federal civilian workers live in Virginia. If the government does shut down, they’ll be furloughed or be forced to work without a paycheck, which could lead to even more people struggling with food insecurity.