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
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
"They will bankrupt our
food banks," said Tussler, whose group supplies food
pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters with emergency
However, about 4,500 people
found work through a new job training program for FoodShare
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
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.