Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
NPR Live Updates: Trump rally shooting

King County WIC Workers Get Advance Layoff Notices

Rogelio V. Soli
AP Photo
File image

At least 82 King County workers have received advance layoff notices as a result of the partial federal government shutdown. The workers administer food assistance to women, infants, and children through the program known as WIC. That food aid is in jeopardy as the shutdown continues.

King County has an estimated 38,000 women and children on federal food aid. The program’s funding will run out at the end of this month if Congress doesn’t get back to work.

Executive Dow Constantine did not mince words as he held a press conference in White Center where many of the program’s recipients live.

“This is no exaggeration. They are literally taking food out of babies' mouths,” he said. “This has to stop.”

Constantine also announced that the county has put the more than 80 people who administer WIC on notice.

“I’m sorry to report that the county employees who provide WIC nutrition services are receiving their 45-day layoff notices today,” Constantine said.

In response to a reporter's question, the executive said the county cannot afford to pick up the program's annual costs of $30 millionthe program costs, as King County is already filling the gap on mental health programs and other vital services that have been cut from state and federal budgets.

Constantine says while there may be differences of opinion about Obamacare in the nation’s capital, more than 10,000 people in our state have already signed up for insurance through the Washington Health Exchange.About 10,000 more have applications pending.

Meantime, U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, western Washington’s sole Republican in Congress who had been silent on the issue until today, said he would vote for a no-strings-attached spending bill to end the shutdown.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to