A major change has been announced to Wisconsin's FoodShare program: starting April 1, adults who do not have children will be required to work for their benefits.
The change will affect all able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 49 who have a renewal or are applying for new FoodShare benefits on or after the first of April, reports Fox 6 Now. Adults without children will have to meet their work requirement in one of four ways:
1. Work at least 80 hours each month.
2. Work at least 80 hours each month in an approved work program such as FSET, Wisconsin Works (W-2) or programs that fall under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).
3. Work and take part in an allowable work program for a combined total of at least 80 hours each month.
4. Become involved in and meet the requirements of a workfare program.
Any adult who fails to meet the work requirement will be entitled to just three months of FoodShare benefits in a 36-month period until they meet the work requirement, become exempt, or the three-year time limit passes.
This requirement comes on the heels of a major reduction in the amount of money FoodShare recipients are receiving, reports Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. Elderly people have reported receiving just $16 a month to pay for groceries and overall participation in the program has decreased significantly. In 2013, participation reportedly peaked at 860,000, but has since dropped by 40,000 people in the past year alone.
Adults who are able to work will automatically be enrolled in FSET when their FoodShare annual review case comes up. They will then be eligible to receive benefits for 90 days, which need not be consecutive, within a 36-month period.
Those who oppose the work-for-benefits change argue that it will affect 66,000 people in Wisconsin and could result in more people visiting food pantries and soup kitchens, which have limited resources.
"In April of 2016, we anticipate that our network of charities will begin to experience food shortage," said Hunger Task Force Executive Director Sherrie Tussler.