Report: 15K recipients lose food stamps under Wisconsin law

November 30, 2015

MADISON Nearly 15,000 Wisconsin residents lost access to food stamps in the first three months under a new law that requires some recipients to seek jobs, government data shows.

The Wisconsin State Journal obtained the data from the Department of Human Services under the state open records law. The agency has since published the data on its website. It gives a first look at the effect of the work requirement, the newspaper reported Sunday ( ).

The rule took effect in April for participants in the state's food stamp program, FoodShare. It requires able-bodied adults without children living at home to work at least 80 hours a month or look for work to stay in the program. Participants can get three months of FoodShare benefits before being kicked out of the program if they decline to look for work.

About 25 percent of the 60,000 recipients eligible to work were dropped from the program between July and September, the data shows.

Sherrie Tussler, executive director of the Milwaukee-based Hunger Task Force, said people kicked off the program will have to rely more heavily on charity.

"They will bankrupt our food banks," said Tussler, whose group supplies food pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters with emergency food.

However, about 4,500 people found work through a new job training program for FoodShare recipients.

Since the new law took effect, just 7 percent of recipients in Milwaukee County where about half of the able-bodied childless adult recipients live who were referred to the FoodShare Employment and Training program were placed in jobs, the data show.

Around 836,000 Wisconsin residents get FoodShare benefits, about 40 percent of them children, according to the DHS.

Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, chairman of the Assembly's committee on public benefit reform, said the changes are working as intended.

"The FSET program was created to help guide able-bodied adults back into the workforce, or put them on the path to gainful employment while remaining on FoodShare," he said in a statement. "So far we have seen thousands of individuals follow the FSET program and secure employment as a result. It is important we continue to enact reforms and transition people from reliance on government to independence."

Laurel Patrick, a spokeswoman for Gov. Scott Walker, said no one will be kicked off the FoodShare program if they are actively participating in the training program or meeting the work requirement.


Associated Press