ELIZABETH CITY -- A North Carolina grocery store chain is stepping in to help needy families affected by the government shutdown.

Earlier this week, North Carolina announced it would temporarily suspend its Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children Program, commonly known as WIC, because of the government shutdown.

Initially, North Carolina leaders had said the program would be funded with state money to keep the program open despite the shutdown. That money has since run out.

On Wednesday, Food Lion announced it would give $500,000 to food banks across the state to help offset the increased demand from families who are no longer receiving WIC assistance.

'Food Lion is pleased to take a leading role across the state in providing critical funding to North Carolina food banks that will begin to receive increased requests in the coming weeks,' said Beth Newlands Campbell, president of Food Lion.

The donation is being made through gift cards worth $5 each.

Food Bank of the Albermarle in Elizabeth City is among the food banks receiving the $5 gift cards.

According to the company, Food Lion gift cards will arrive at food banks over the next two days. Food banks will distribute them to partner agencies and constituents in the next several weeks, or purchase critical food needed for the food bank.

On Thursday, the Currituck County Department of Social Services announced it was teaming up with the Lower Currituck Food Pantry to supply baby formula to local families impacted by the WIC program's suspension.

The department says anyone in need of baby formula or food assistance should contact the Currituck County Health Department at 252-232-2271.

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