Wisconsin State Budget: Impact On Hunger
2017-19 Wisconsin Budget: Impact on Hunger
The Governor’s budget dramatically changes the FoodShare (formerly known as food stamp) program, gutting protections for families that truly need help. FoodShare benefits are 100% federal money. FoodShare can only be used for groceries and helps the most vulnerable people in our state. Nearly half of FoodShare recipients are children and over 80% of families have worked within a year of receiving benefits.
The best way to end hunger is with family-sustaining jobs. Taking away access to food does not increase independence, it only increases hunger. Your elected representatives need to hear from you! TAKE ACTION HERE
1. The budget will increase hunger in Wisconsin.
- The proposed changes to FoodShare eligibility will impact over 100,000 people in Wisconsin, kicking tens of thousands off of food aid.
2. The budget spends $150 million to expand a broken system.
- The current FoodShare Employment & Training (FSET) Program is broken. It needs to be fixed, not expanded to impact 100,000 parents.
- The last budget spent nearly $55 Million and kicked 64,000 people off of FoodShare – this proposal will hurt even more people. The Governor’s benchmarks will have taxpayers paying out-of-state job training companies $8,694 for every job in 2017-18 and nearly $16,000 per job in 2018-19.
3. “Dead-broke” vs. “dead-beat.” There is a difference.
- This budget eliminates FoodShare eligibility for parents not in compliance with child support. Parents are often “dead broke,” not “deadbeat”. A late child support payment does not mean a parent does not love or want to care for their child. Taking away food doesn’t help parents pay child support or feed their children. Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and Milwaukee County Child Support Services Director James Sullivan explain how this proposal will harm the health and well-being of children and families in Milwaukee.
4. Piles of paperwork = Piles of problems.
- FoodShare benefits will be denied for anyone not elderly, blind, or disabled whose household has over $25,000 in liquid assets. The paperwork required to prove eligibility is daunting. Pennsylvania stopped their asset test after 111,000 households were denied benefits because they had trouble producing all of the required documentation.
5. Childhood hunger will increase.
- While the changes to FoodShare are intended for adults, kids will be the ones left with an empty plate. When parents lose access to food aid, their children go hungry.
- When a parent receives a job-training requirement letter in a language he or she can’t understand and loses benefits, the child goes hungry.
- When a parent misses a child-support payment, is broke, can’t catch up and loses benefits, the child goes hungry.
- When a parent cannot get the correct bank statements in order to prove they need help and loses benefits, the child goes hungry.
Fixing a Broken System
The best way to end hunger is with family-supporting jobs. FoodShare Employment & Training (FSET) provides an opportunity to help low-income Wisconsinites gain independence. Investing $150 million in quality job-training is a great idea and is a big step toward ending hunger.
However, our current FoodShare Employment & Training (FSET) system is broken. We should fix FSET before we expand it. We should not mandate participation. We should waive FoodShare time limits in areas of high unemployment.
5 Ways to improve the FoodShare Employment & Training program:
- FSET contractors should have meaningful benchmarks that incentivize moving people toward careers, not temporary jobs.
- FSET should remove real barriers to employment by connecting FoodShare recipients with drivers licenses, vocational certifications, GEDs or high school diplomas.
- FSET should individualize employment plans based on skill set, location and need instead of handing out generic print-outs of temporary job openings.
- FSET participation should not be a mandate. Mandating work does not create jobs.
- FSET funding should be directed toward the Wisconsin technical colleges. Wisconsin technical colleges and the Wisconsin Transitional Jobs Program have proven track-records of creating real paths toward sustainable employment.