Hunger Task Force

Ending Hunger is Our Mission

Wisconsin State Budget: Impact On Hunger

2017-19 Wisconsin Budget: Impact on Hunger

The best way to end hunger is with family-sustaining jobs. Taking away access to food does not increase independence, it only increases hunger.

The Governor’s budget dramatically changes the FoodShare (formerly known as food stamp) program, gutting protections for families that truly need help.  At the end of May, Wisconsin’s Joint Committee on Finance approved changes to the Governor’s budget proposal. Those changes are reflected in the “5 things to know…” below.

5 things to know about the Governor’s proposed budget:

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.
  • What Joint Finance Committee did:
    • Low-income parents of children are no longer required to participate in a failed job-training program, meaning fewer people will be cut off of food aid.

2. The budget spends $150 million to expand a broken system..

  • The last budget spent nearly $55 Million and kicked 64,000 people off of FoodShare through the FoodShare Employment and Training Program (FSET). The Governor’s performance 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.
  • What Joint Finance Committee did:
    • Reduced the funding for this program by $47.9 million, and took away the “pay-for-performance” bonuses for contractors that incentivized putting people into multiple temp jobs, rather than work with people to train for family-sustaining jobs.
    • Improved accountability: Department of Health Services must produce an “Outcome Report” to the Joint Finance Committee and report any needed program improvements and contract modifications.
    • Parents of children not immediately required to participate: Deleted the provision to make universal referrals for parents to FSET, and the state needs to perform more robust outreach and education of the program and it’s requirements. There will be a pilot project for parents of children to FSET and the outcome of the pilot will guide the decision to expand statewide.

3. “Dead-broke” vs. “dead-beat.” There is a difference.

4. Piles of paperwork = Piles of problems.

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:

  1. FSET contractors should have meaningful benchmarks that incentivize moving people toward careers, not temporary jobs.
  2. FSET should remove real barriers to employment by connecting FoodShare recipients with drivers licenses, vocational certifications, GEDs or high school diplomas.
  3. FSET should individualize employment plans based on skill set, location and need instead of handing out generic print-outs of temporary job openings.
  4. FSET participation should not be a mandate. Mandating work does not create jobs.
  5. 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.