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Ohio says WIC program secure into November

CINCINNATI (AP) — Ohio health officials are reassuring participants in a special nutrition program that there is funding to keep it going into November, despite the partial federal government shutdown.

The state Department of Health said the low-income food program for Women, Infants, and Children called WIC has resources to operate into the second week of November, and likely could extend beyond that.

"Ohio WIC is open for business!" proclaimed the headline on a state web site Thursday.

Officials in some other states have said their resources could run out sooner for the federal program that provides nutritious foods like milk and vegetables to qualifying pregnant women and mothers of children up to age 5. WIC also offers education and support services on prenatal care, breastfeeding and other health issues.

The reports have led to queries from Ohio participants about the availability in the state.

"That has caused some concern," said Robert Jennings, a health department spokesman. "Right now, we're not impacted."

He said the state should be able to extend the program through the end of November if necessary, using rebates from makers of baby formula and other items in the program.

There are more than 260,000 WIC participants in Ohio, one of the largest programs in the Midwest.

Participants get coupons to use at grocery stores for designated foods. The state says the average monthly food package cost per participant in the 2012 fiscal year was $36.02. On a monthly average, the program in Ohio served 63,192 women, 69,004 infants and 143,431 other children.

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