Wisconsin food stamp enrollment spiking during coronavirus

(The Center Square) – Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services’ latest report on its FoodShare program shows a jump in enrollment this year, following the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing economic slowdown.

There are now almost 374,000 families enrolled in FoodShare, an increase of nearly 70,000 families from a year ago. Of those 374,000 families, DHS says there are nearly 711,000 people receiving benefits.

The September at a Glance report shows two spikes in FoodShare enrollment. One in April at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak and another in August. There were also spikes in first-time enrollment in those same months.

Rep. Janel Brandtjen, R-Menomonee Falls, said the spikes in FoodShare enrollment mirror spikes in job losses in the state.

“The increases in SNAP cases should cause everyone to pause,” Brandtjen told The Center Square. “Not only is this segment out of work, but many are still waiting for unemployment benefits, and were told by the Evers Administration Department of Workforce Development to apply for SNAP. Constituents have personally told me they were told to apply for SNAP.”

DHS did not respond to questions about the enrollment spike or the costs associated with the increased number of people getting food stamps.

Brandtjen said the FoodShare report goes hand-in-hand with what people in Wisconsin have seen for months from Gpv. Evers. She says the governor has failed to get people back to work, and failed to get people anything more than the very basic help.

“COVID-19 has decimated jobs and added families to SNAP. But the Governor’s inability to get Unemployment to individuals, who have waited 8 months for benefits have created an influx of new SNAP cases,” she explained. “Using more phone lines, communicating via computer and transferring employees may have gotten the benefits out sooner and avoided the rising SNAP numbers, but those requests were ignored.”

DHS’ report states the agency distributed $123 million in FoodShare benefits in September. That is down from over $150 million in August.

Because of the coronavirus, families on FoodShare in Wisconsin have been able to collect maximum benefits. That means a family of four earning as much as $34 ,000 a year has been able to collect $680 a month in benefits since March.

By Benjamin Yount | The Center Square
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Reposted with permission

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