WIC office reduction avoided
SHAMOKIN - The planned reduction of operating hours at the Shamokin WIC office will not occurs Friday as planned.
Family Planning Plus, which operates the Women, Infants and Children Program locally, received a cash advance from Family Health Council of Central PA, which secured the funding from its own line of credit.
Estimated at more than $100,000, the funds will make up for allocations withheld by the state Department of Health for part of May and all of June as it completes an audit on the local agency.
Offices in Sunbury and Selinsgrove were expected to close indefinitely on Friday, according to an announcement last week. Offices in Shamokin, Lewisburg and Lewistown would have been reduced to once-weekly openings.
"It is a short-term fix, but according to the Family Health Council of Central PA, the audit is almost completed and they anticipate the release of the funds within the next few weeks," Lisa Wehr, assistant director at Family Planning Plus, wrote Wednesday in an email to The News-Item.
"The hold-up had to do with invoices that the Family Health Council had submitted to the PA Department of Health. Hopefully, we won't have to revisit this problem at the end of September. In short, our employees remain concerned but hopeful."
Family Health Council of Central PA receives the WIC funding from the Department of Health and reallocates a portion to Family Planning Plus, Wehr said.
About $370,000 total in WIC and other program funding has been withheld from Family Planning Plus as the audit was conducted, she said, adding that when the audit is completed and the funds are disbursed, the Health Council will be repaid.
"The money could not have come at a better time," Peggy Moser, executive director of Family Planning Plus, said Wednesday in a press release. "Because funds remain frozen, Family Health Council had to take the money from their line of credit, and we really appreciate their sacrifice."
WIC targets the high-risk population of low-income mothers and young children at risk for developing nutrition-related diseases and disorders. The program offers food vouchers to qualifying applicants to be traded in for varied food items like milk, vegetables, proteins and baby formula. Vouchers are individualized for each client.
An estimated 5,000 clients are served by WIC offices in Northumberland, Snyder, Union, Juniata and Mifflin counties.
Family Planning Plus thanked the offices of state Reps. Lynda Schlegel Culver and Fred Keller and state Sens. John R. Gordner and Senator Gene Yaw for assisting.
For more information call Family Planning Plus at 523-3600 or visit www.familyplanningplus.org.