A program providing nutritional assistance to low-income moms and moms-to-be is in jeopardy.
"Unless we figure out how to do things creatively and very efficiently, we are looking at steadily year after year, some level of cut to the WIC program,” said Dr. Bob England, director of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.
“That can’t go on forever,” he said.
WIC – short for Women, Infants and Children – provides nutritional education, breastfeeding support and supplemental food assistance. England says around 55,000 people benefit at the 15 county-run clinics.
In Maricopa County, WIC is entirely funded by federal grant money. England says to maintain current funding, clinics would need to see a nearly impossible number of patients. Next year, the program will lose $1.25 million – more than 10 percent of its budget.
"We've got no skin in this game at all," he said.
Three clinics are scheduled to close in the coming weeks:
- AVONDALE - 950 E VAN BUREN
GLENDALE - 5422 W. THUNDERBIRD ROAD #6
MESA - 430 N. DOBSON ROAD #111
England says the department is working to move those clinics and others to other low-rent or rent-free locations. They are also exploring “creative” ways to cut costs, potentially by utilizing virtual patient visits, in the future, he said.
Many people may not realize a family of four with an income of $45,000 a year or less are eligible to receive assistance through the program.