With the government shutdown approaching the two-week mark, concerned Newton County residents have been flooding the Newton County Health Department with calls recently, wondering what the shutdown means for the county's WIC program.

However, Pam Link, with the health department, said the WIC program is still up and running as usual.

Link said they have been assured that the program is funded through the end of October, however, Link said the department is unsure if the shutdown will eventually affect their program.

"We don't know, we hope not, but we just don't know," Link said. "We have received word that we have funding through October."

Link said the local WIC program is funded by the state, who receives the money from the federal government.

Missouri's Department of Health and Senior Services reports the same funding situation in a message on their webpage.

"During the federal government shutdown, Missouri WIC has funding available to continue operations through the month of October," the message reads.

WIC provides supplemental nutrition to women, infants and children.

Link said the program is open to pregnant women, breastfeeding women and women who have given birth up to six months after, as well as infants and children up to age five.

"It does help a lot of lower income families," Link said.

She said in Newton County alone the program supports an average of 1,600 WIC participants per month.

The service covers supplemental, nutritious foods including milk, cheese, eggs, cereal, juice, peanut butter, whole wheat bread, fruits and vegetables, Link said.

Link said those with questions are still welcome to call the health department, though the phone lines do get tied up, and the Newton County Health Department is also posting any information they have on their Facebook page as well.

As for now, Link said the program should be there through at least the end of the month.

"Hopefully we'll hear something before then," Link said. "We don't know what will happen if nothing is resolved. I don't know if they'll find other money to continue with WIC or not, we'll wait and see."

The Newton County WIC office is located at 812 W. Harmony, in Neosho, and can be reached at 451-3743 or online at www.facebook.com, at the page titled "Newton County Health Department."

The WIC program is administrated at the federal level by the United States Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service.

According to the FNS website, WIC is a federal grant program, for which Congress authorizes a specific amount of funds each year.

WIC programs are administered through 90 state agencies, and operate through 50 state health departments, 10,000 clinic sites, 1,900 local agencies, 34 tribal organizations, the District of Columbia and five territories, according to the FNS website.