Staffing shortages have forced the indefinite closure of a Washoe County public assistance office that serves approximately 2,000 families on the northern outskirts of Reno.
Washoe County health officials said clients at Sun Valley's supplemental food program for women, infants and children - also known as WIC - must schedule future appointments at the two remaining Washoe WIC locations, the nearest one being the central office 6 miles away.
Sun Valley WIC was targeted for closure because it has the fewest number of clients. The central office and South Reno locations collectively serve about 5,200 families.
The staff shortage at the Sun Valley office was due in part to WIC staff seeking other county jobs.
Sun Valley Family Resource Center Advisory Board Chairwoman Susan Severt said the closure would be devastating.
Juna Perez, a 21-year-old Sun Valley resident expecting her first child, said transportation to the department's main office for future appointments won't be easy.
"I would have a struggle getting there," Perez told the Reno Gazette-Journal through a translator. "I got a ride here today. I now have to find a ride willing to go further."
Carla McLain, 21, Reno, said she's been coming to the clinic since her son Jacob was born in March. She said the trip to the Ninth Street facility would be inconvenient because she shares a single car with her husband.
The Sun Valley office that opened in 1998 is closing "indefinitely but not permanently," said Phillip Ulibarri, WIC marketing program coordinator.
"Washoe County is committed to the WIC program," Ulibarri said. "We don't want to see anybody go without food who needs food. It's just the (short) staffing level at this time that doesn't allow us to keep it open."
A $875,394 federal grant funds Washoe County WIC clinics, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture reimburses the county for programs based on the number of clients. Therefore, the county's WIC funding wont change because it's total client base would be the same, Ulibarri said.