By Heather Janssen

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — With a new month comes new benefits and as many people head to the grocery store to cash in on their food stamps or other benefits, like WIC, a new social media push asks people to pay attention to what they’re buying.

So-called “panic buyers” have left an impact on families who have a limited number of items to choose from.

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Lindsey Keefauver is a proud mother of two, but lately, finding the things her growing boys need hasn’t been easy.

“If I can’t find eggs and cheese, I can’t get pop tarts,” Keefauver said. “There’s no alternative. If they’re out, I’m out. He’s out.”

Keefauver and her family use WIC benefits to get by. She said it’s difficult to even leave her house at times because she’s visually impaired in one eye. When she does make it to the store, she’s only able to buy certain foods and certain brands.

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In recent weeks, the sights of empty shelves have plagued grocery stores all over California and left many pantries bare.

“You don’t have the money to feed them and the benefits you do get, you’re not able to utilize,” Keefauver said. “What do you do?”

The Keefauver’s story is like many the California WIC Association has heard a number of times over the last few weeks. The California WIC Association said nearly 60% of infants nationwide utilize this program. The food benefits are only around $40, but it’s enough to keep some families afloat.

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As the coronavirus crisis continues and shoppers swiftly pick up their necessities, WIC recipients have had their benefits expire because they can’t find the things they need. When they expire, they’re gone for good.

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California WIC Association spokesperson Sarah Diaz said some relief is on the way, though. The Governor signed an executive order earlier this week which aims at temporarily changing some of the program’s regulations.

“Participants have been calling to say they haven’t been able to find their WIC-approved foods,” said Diaz. “We’re hoping the types of foods that are WIC approved may be expanded or loosened up a bit.”

Still, she said, there’s no timeline on when this may happen.

In the meantime, families like Keefauver’s are pleading for others to look for the WIC sticker and try to avoid choosing those items on their grocery runs.

“If they’re out of the WIC items I need, I leave empty-handed,” Keefauver said.

The California WIC Association also said a number of families have struggled to find infant formula. Enfamil is the brand contracted for WIC in the state of California. When this is out of stock, the nonprofit said they’ve heard of a number of people attempting to make their own, but according to them, that isn’t safe for your children.

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Anyone who can’t find formula should check local WIC nutrition stores or contact their local WIC office, many of which are operating remotely.

Heather Janssen