A five-year reprieve has been given to the Women Infants and Children’s (WIC) office on Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.
The Navy had planned to close the WIC office on base, which is run by Community Action of Skagit County, but reversed its decision after U.S. Representative Rick Larsen and Senator Patty Murray urged the Department of Defense to keep it open, according to a press release from Larsen, who toured the WIC offices Thursday.
The original decision to remove WIC was part of a DOD-wide decision to remove non-federal entities from military bases in recent years. Military families who used WIC services opposed the plan.
“I am very happy they don’t have to move, the Navy is happy they don’t have to move,” Larsen said. “We’ve solved the problem for five years, so I think the next step is to make this a Defense-wide policy.”
The base WIC office has been offered a five-year lease from the Navy, without excessive building lease fees, according to the press release. WIC offers supplemental foods, health care referrals and nutrition education for pregnant women, infants and children up to age 5.
“I think the fundamental argument with WIC is that although it is administered by a local, community-based non-profit, it is administered that way because a federal law says that’s how it should be administered,” Larsen continued. “And on top of that, it’s administered with federal money, so everything about it is federal, as opposed to non-federal and I think that’s probably the basis of the argument going forward.”
“Serving Navy families on the base has been a priority to us for many years, and we are grateful for Congressman Larsen’s efforts to make sure young military families continue to have access to WIC services,” said Bill Henkel, executive director for Community Action of Skagit County. “We also appreciate our strong relationship with NAS Whidbey Island and look forward to continuing to provide accessible support and services to our military’s families.”
The office on NAS Whidbey Island is located in Building 13 on Seaplane Base and is strictly for military families. An additional WIC office at 1791 NE 1st Ave. in Oak Harbor also provides services to the community.