Increase in Wisconsin FoodShare Benefits

Posted Monday, March 9, 2009 --- 1:40 p.m.

From the Governor's Office:

MADISON – Governor Jim Doyle today announced that Wisconsin will receive an estimated $110.6 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds for Wisconsin’s FoodShare program. Starting April 1st, nearly all FoodShare participants will receive a 13.6 percent increase in their maximum food stamp benefit. FoodShare helps people with limited income buy the food they need for their families.

“President Obama understands the difficult times our families are facing and how important this money is to Wisconsin. We need to make sure that our children aren’t going hungry and that people in Wisconsin can put food on their table. Each month, more than 500,000 people across our state get help from FoodShare,” Governor Doyle said. “Not only is it crucial that our families have access to a basic necessity such as food, we also know that investing in this type of program stimulates the economy.”

FoodShare participants automatically will have the extra benefits added to their QUEST card in April. FoodShare members will start to receive letters on Tuesday which announce the increased benefit. Under the law, the increase will stay in place and will not go down in the future. For example, a family of three that receives $250 each month in FoodShare benefits will now get $313 starting April 1st.

According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, food stamps are one of the most effective forms of economic stimulus because low-income individuals generally spend their money on trying to meet essential needs such a food, shelter and transportation. They estimate that for every dollar that a family receives from FoodShare to buy food, it enables them to spend an additional dollar on other items.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that each $1 in FoodShare benefits results in $1.84 in economic activity. It is estimated that the increase in FoodShare benefits will generate more than $135 million per year in economic activity for Wisconsin. This is based upon current program participation levels, so the annual impact on Wisconsin’s economy will grow and FoodShare participation increases.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services estimates that the FoodShare program will receive an additional $110.6 million in federal funds from April 1, 2009 through September 2010. In federal fiscal year 2009, Wisconsin expects to receive $36.9 million, and $73.7 million in federal fiscal year 2010.

There are currently 506,360 people enrolled in FoodShare in Wisconsin, which provides food benefits to low-income people, including those who have lost their job, those who are working but have low incomes, those living on a small or fixed income, retired individuals or those who are disabled and not able to work.

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