04.12.16

Advocates from Across Wisconsin Join Senator Baldwin in Calling on Governor Walker to Immediately Restore Food Assistance to Thousands of Wisconsinites

Recent reports show poverty in Wisconsin has reached alarming levels

More than 25 groups in Wisconsin call for action

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, a broad coalition of advocates, hunger relief providers, and religious and fraternal organizations sent a letter to Governor Scott Walker calling for him immediately restore food assistance to thousands of Wisconsinites.

Last month, Senator Baldwin and U.S. Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI 3), Gwen Moore (D-WI 4) and Mark Pocan (D-WI 2) sent a letter to Governor Scott Walker calling on him to request and reinstate the federal waiver for 20 counties and 10 cities with high unemployment rates.

“As FoodShare participants are losing food aid at higher than projected rates, we urge you to request a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture from harmful FoodShare time limits and protect vulnerable Wisconsinites in areas that are lagging behind in economic recovery,” the groups wrote.Unfortunately, mandating work does not create jobs. For those living in areas of high unemployment, the situation was already dismal. As a state, we must not take away food aid for failure to find a job in areas of our state where economic recovery is still hoped for rather than assured. Securing a job remains a significant challenge for many in Wisconsin, and unemployment continues to be high in particular parts of the state.”

Recent reports have concluded that poverty in Wisconsin has reached alarming levels and the highest rates in years in many parts of the state. Currently, 20 counties and 10 cities in Wisconsin have unemployment levels that would allow them to qualify for an exemption waiver to the food assistance restrictions for certain low-income Wisconsinites. For over a decade, Wisconsin—along with many other states—has instituted a federal waiver to exempt vulnerable individuals in areas of high unemployment from these time limits on food assistance eligibility. But, Governor Walker has now decided to remove this exemption and force many vulnerable Wisconsinites to lose access to the food they need.

In their letter last month, the Wisconsin members of Congress urged Governor Walker to reconsider his decision and reinstate Wisconsin’s long-held federal waiver to ensure continued food security for Wisconsinites struggling to get ahead in a struggling economy. The members of Congress also questioned the effectiveness of the Walker Administration’s employment and training programs and asked the Governor to continue working to fully implement all federal recommendations and corrective actions for the FoodShare Employment and Training (FSET) program. 

“The solution to these problems should not be to build barriers and make it harder for people to achieve economic independence. Rather, we must continue to support opportunities to lift people up and out of poverty and ensure that our jobs training programs are truly working,the members of Congress wrote to Governor Walker.

Already, reports indicate that over 30,000 Wisconsinites have been kicked off of the FoodShare program, including 16,560 in Milwaukee County, due to the decision to remove the waiver.  This has put a strain on Wisconsin food banks, which help those most in need avoid hunger and now face an increased demand that may jeopardize their food supply. Hunger Task Force, for example, already serves over 34,000 individuals each month in Milwaukee County. If these trends in FoodShare disenrollment continue, there could be a dramatic increase in the number people turning to Hunger Task Force for assistance.

An online version of the groups’ letter to Governor Walker is available here.

An online version of Senator Baldwin’s letter to Governor Walker is available here