HOUSTON — Harris County Public Health Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Centers are granting benefit cards for free food assistance to federal employees impacted by the government shutdown. WIC — a federally funded program — provides low-income pregnant women and families with infants and/or children up to age five with healthy food, breastfeeding support, health screenings and more, at no cost. (Men of infants or children up to age five are included.) Federal workers impacted by the shutdown can receive up to three months of WIC benefits.
WIC benefit cards look and work just like a debit card. They can be used at most grocery stores to purchase healthy foods such as milk, cheese, eggs, cereal, fruits, vegetables and more.
“We’ve began to see employees from the TSA and U.S. Coastguard come in and apply for benefits,” said Jolene Norbert-Harrell, HCPH WIC director. “We’re more than happy to help them during their time of need. And the joy is, we can get them approved and sent home with a benefit card the same day.”
“It’s definitely a good resource. My kids are enjoying the fruits and vegetables,” said a federal worker affected by the shutdown who chose to remain anonymous. The TSA employee, and mother of two, had never received WIC benefits before the shutdown. She stopped by the Humble HCPH WIC Center for assistance, on last week, and received her benefit card the same day.
HCPH operates 11 WIC centers across Harris County and have continued to operate under normal circumstances, in light of the government shutdown. Federal workers affected by the shutdown can call HCPH WIC offices at (713) 407-5800, to make an appointment.