FoodShare Cuts Hurt Wisconsin
Hunger Task Force and 3 seniors traveled to Madison and delivered over 400 hand-written letters to the governor, urging him to join his colleagues and take action to protect Wisconsin families from these cuts. Check out the trip below:
Right now, low-income seniors in Wisconsin are seeing massive cuts to the money they have for food. The “Heat and Eat” cuts come on the heels of a massive cut to FoodShare last November. This year’s Farm Bill cut $8.9 billion from SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), which is called FoodShare in Wisconsin. FoodShare ensures 850,000 people in Wisconsin, mostly seniors and children, can eat. This billion dollar cut doesn’t affect the whole country. Now just 4 states. Wisconsin is one of them.
How does the cut work?
Wisconsin utilizes a federal policy (Heat and Eat) which provides low-income families a boost in their FoodShare benefits if they receive at least $1 in energy assistance. Even WITH this boost, Wisconsin has one of the lowest average benefits per person in the country. The 2014 Farm Bill raised the minimum energy assistance threshold from $1 to $20, which cuts FoodShare benefits (again) for over 255,000 Wisconsin families.
How bad is the cut, and who is affected?
We predicted that the quarter-million families would see $25 cut per month. It’s much worse. The cases we are seeing are closer to $90 per month cut per family. This is devastating. Many low-income seniors live in housing where heat is included in their rent. These are the people that are seeing the worst cuts. Without warning, 60-80% of the money they need for food is disappearing.
What can be done?
Remember how only 4 states are affected by this cut? There are 10 other states that have already taken action to stop the cuts from being implemented. They have invested small amounts in their hungry families to cover the energy assistance difference, thus preventing the massive cuts to their citizens. By allocating $5.4 million of federal funds (not state money) to the Heat and Eat program would preserve $276 million in FoodShare benefits for Wisconsin families.
What would this mean to Wisconsin?
Preserving $276 million means that Wisconsin’s seniors, children and working families will have a little more to eat. Its $276 million that will be spent at local Wisconsin businesses and grocers. BIG return on each dollarFor every $1 in FoodShare benefits spent, we generate $1.79 in economic activity. That’s nearly $500 million dollars back to Wisconsin’s economy.
How can we make this happen?
We delivered hundreds of hand-written letters to our governor. He said we need legislative action. The good news is that there is a bill that will enact the legislative action we need. Like both Republican and Democratic states have done, it would use federal LIHEAP (Low Income Heating & Energy Assistance Program) dollars to cover the energy assistance threshold necessary to restore cuts to hungry families.