Hunger Task Force

Ending Hunger is Our Mission

FoodShare Employment & Training

How Many People Can We Serve Before We Run Out Of Food?

On April 1, 2015, Wisconsin’s FoodShare program changed in a major way. All nonexempt able bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) on FoodShare must comply with a work requirement, take part in FoodShare Employment Training (FSET), or face a three-month time limitation on their FoodShare benefits.

Since July 2015, all able-bodied adults compelled to enroll in FSET who fail to meet program mandates were dropped from FoodShare for three years.

Hunger and the need for emergency food is already increasing in Milwaukee County due to this policy. Milwaukee, like many areas of the state, qualifies as a “labor-surplus area.” There are significantly fewer available jobs compared to the number of people looking for work. Governor Walker can request a waiver from the “time-limited benefits” for any labor-surplus area, but has yet to do so.

Recently, the state of Wisconsin released data on its FoodShare Employment & Training (FSET) program from April through September of 2016. The state has touted the program as a success, but ignores the overwhelmingly negative impact the work requirement has had on hungry individuals.

Here are some updated quick facts on FoodShare Employment & Training in Wisconsin (April 2015-March 2017)

  • 69,986 FoodShare recipients have lost their benefits due to time-limited benefits (TLBs)
  • 25,413 reported new employments have been recorded
    • More than one employment per person can be counted
  • 18,229 individuals have reported to have gained employment
    • By region data is only available for Year 2 (April 2016-April 2017)
      • Gained employment for Year 2: 9,229
    • Average of 41% of FSET enrollee program activity is categorized as “Job Search”
      • No clear definition of activity categories
  • The state boasts of an $11.93 average hourly wage and 32.4 average hourly weekly hours for participants but glosses over the fact that 62% of FSET participants are earning a wage of $0/hr and zero hours worked. They don’t take these individuals into account when making their calculations.
  • While they report that 18,229 FSET participants gained employment from April 2015-June 2016, 69,986 FoodShare participants were disenrolled during the same period. In fact, for every 1 person that found employment, 3.84 FoodShare participants were disenrolled. The ratio gets much worse in Region 10 (mostly Dane County) where there were 4 disenrollments for every 1 placement or Region 9 in LaCrosse where an astounding 7.4 people lost FoodShare for every 1 person who found employment.
  • From April 2015 to March of 2016, 79,399 FoodShare participants in Wisconsin were referred to the FSET program in a non-voluntary manner. From this group almost two-thirds (63.8%) were dropped from FoodShare assistance. The work requirement was supposed to incentivize job training, but the vast majority of people lose their food assistance and are more likely to have to depend on food pantries and soup kitchens.
While the disenrollments have dropped, they are keeping pace with the number of referrals, meaning people that lost their benefits aren't getting back on the program.

While the disenrollments have dropped, they are keeping pace with the number of referrals, meaning people that lost their benefits aren’t getting back on the program.

Are people getting jobs?

FSET Enrollment & Placements

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This graph is set to look specifically at the co-movement of enrollments and placements for Wisconsin as a whole. The number of people enrolling in FSET and job or volunteer placements have moved pretty much in step since April 2016, which may imply that placements are mostly dependent on new enrollments and not necessairly those people who enrolled in FSET in previous months.

FoodShare and Unemployment Rate

The above graph looks at the Milwaukee County unemployment rate and number of FoodShare recipients. FoodShare participation is supposed to trail trends in unemployment, however, we can see that the number of FoodShare recipients continues to drop despite a flattened unemployment rate, meaning more people will need to use emergency food.

How does Milwaukee County compare with the rest of the state of Wisconsin? Milwaukee County has the highest percentage of FoodShare disenrollment of the 11 FSET regions across the state.
Projected Disenrollment of Region's FoodShare Population

In fact, only since January has disenrollment for all other regions combined surpassed Milwaukee County’s disenrollment. This reflects lower referral rates in Milwaukee County from October to December of 2015 rather than a change in the disenrollment rate.
Milwaukee County & Wisconsin Disenrollment
Considering that Milwaukee County is home to 34% of the state’s FoodShare recipients, the disenrollment numbers compared with the rest of the state as a whole are still striking.

Milwaukee County, or Region 2, is the only region with a nearly 10% reduction of their FoodShare enrollment. This is double the rate that other regions are experiencing.

Hunger and the need for emergency food is already increasing in Milwaukee County due to this policy. Milwaukee, like many areas of the state, qualifies as a “labor-surplus area.” There are significantly fewer available jobs compared to the number of people looking for work. Governor Walker can request a waiver from the “time-limited benefits” for any labor-surplus area, but has yet to do so.
On April 11, 2016, over 25 organizations across the state called on the governor to request this waiver.

READ: Letter to Governor Walker requesting hunger relief for over 30,000 Wisconsinites
READ: Press Release on 25 Wisconsin organizations calling on Governor Walker to request a “time-limited benefits” waiver for areas where the economy is struggling.

READ: Gov. Walker’s Form Letter Response

In October, 2016 Governor Walker declared “mission accomplished” after over 50,000 individuals have lost their FoodShare benefits. Read our response to Governor Walker HERE

READ: Elected Officials call on Gov. Walker to restore food assistance
READ: Hunger Task Force FSET Position Paper
READ: Sherrie Tussler’s Op-Ed published in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Hunger Task Force Executive Director, Sherrie Tussler, has made a request to Secretary of Health Services Kitty Rhoades to save “an entire population of people from hunger” and request a waiver for Milwaukee County from the time limit requirement under FSET. You can read the letter here.

This is the State’s response to the request.

You can also read the USDA letter to the state placing the Department of Health Services in corrective action following federal violations committed by ResCare in Milwaukee County. FNS Correspondence to State WI ET Visit – 10-14-15

The State of Wisconsin responded to the request 60 days later. You can read the letter here.

Hunger Task Force remains interested in a well-run program and requested copies of the State’s proof of corrective action. Read here.

The State of Wisconsin responded treating our request as an open record request. You can read the letter here.

Hunger Task Force hosted a press conference highlighting how FSET will impact our food bank and hunger in Wisconsin. Below you can read a statement from our Executive Director, Sherrie Tussler.

Hunger Task Force hosted a press conference highlighting how FSET will impact our food bank and hunger in Wisconsin. Below you can read a statement from our Executive Director, Sherrie Tussler.

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