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WIC cuts will not impact services

By Melissa Crowe
Oct. 1, 2012 at 5:01 a.m.


Do you qualify?

The Victoria City-County Health Department encourages any woman in the five-county area to call 361-578-2884 to check eligibility for WIC services.

Families worried about their benefits with the Women, Infants and Children program can breathe a sigh of relief that services will not be impacted, despite funding cuts.

Victoria City-County Health Department Director Bain Cate said the 8.6 percent budget decrease to the program will not affect current services.

In a letter submitted Monday to the commissioners court, Cate said, "There will be adequate funds to continue functioning of the WIC Division" with the current operational structure and personnel, and vital nutritional services.

County Judge Don Pozzi said the cut is not unusual or surprising.

"It's a very good program ... and is needed in our area," he said.

Each month, about 5,000 people in the Victoria area use WIC, a federally funded supplemental nutrition program. WIC promotes a better quality of life for Texas' most vulnerable children by providing healthful foods, nutrition education for parents, support for mothers who breast feed and medical and social-service referrals.

He encouraged any mother in the five county coverage area - Calhoun, DeWitt, Goliad, Jackson and Victoria - to see if they might qualify for services.

"There is no doubt ... that not all the ladies who qualify for services are taking advantage of them," Cate said.

In an email Monday, Cate said the cuts are directly from the Department of State Health Services, but that he did not know "the true reason" behind them.

However, he said the decreased funding is also attributed to Congress' refusal to vote on a federal budget.

"There may be other reasons, but that is what we're being told," Cate said.

The Department of State Health Services "has always allocated sufficient funds" to the local health department to carry out the program, Cate said in the email.

The contract Victoria County Commissioners approved Monday provides $420,425 maximum funding for a six-month term, a reduction of $36,273 over the previous fiscal year award of $456,698.

The federal health department pays the funds to the local WIC program after reimbursement is requested.

"Never have the true expenses of (Victoria City-County Health Department-WIC) come close to approaching that maximum allocated dollar amount," Cate said, "and this year should be no different ... In short, it should not affect the service to WIC clients in any way."

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