States implement federal policy and they have the power to ensure that federal law fits the specific needs of the state.
Administrative or regulatory decisions or proposed legislation in the state house can have positive or negative effects on Wisconsin families who may need emergency food or benefits.
We support, advocate for, and educate elected and administration officials on state policies that:
- Increase access to fresh, nutritious food for Wisconsin families
- Ensure a strong, accessible, and effective FoodShare program
- Improve the health of Wisconsin families
Please sign up to be a Feeding Wisconsin Hunger Fighter to get more information and how you can get involved.
Healthy School Meals for All
The pandemic exacerbated food insecurity in Wisconsin. We quickly learned that many of our friends and neighbors need help putting food on their tables. Families lined up to pick-up food at schools and food banks. School nutrition professionals worked creatively -in parking lots and local parks -because they understand how important healthy school meals are for our children. This year, all Wisconsin children are receiving free school meals at school.
School meals are the healthiest source of meals for American children, according to a study from Tufts University, and a body of evidence shows students who participate in school breakfast programs have improved attendance, behavior, and academic achievement as well as decreased tardiness.
We provide busses, internet, and books. We know hungry students can’t learn. Children should be provided with the nutrition they need to thrive in school.
Emergency Order's Impact on FoodShare Benefit Allotment
On March 31, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the ability of the governor to issue repeated emergency declarations related to the COVID-19 pandemic and ending the statewide mask mandate effective immediately.
Through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Congress authorized emergency increases to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, known as FoodShare in Wisconsin) benefits in states that have emergency orders in place to address the increase in hunger due to the pandemic. This policy has provided individuals experiencing food insecurity with added resources to put food on their table and added purchasing power to support our local economies through the pandemic and economic recovery. For example, this change will likely impact seniors and individuals and families with some income such as disability benefits or low-wage and part time work. These individuals may have previously received $16 per month in FoodShare benefits and with the increased allotments are now receiving $234 a month in benefits.
On April 1, the USDA announced an expansion of the emergency allotments. This will help the poorest of the poor--those who were already receiving the maximum benefit due to having very little to no income.
Unfortunately, for the state to issue emergency allotments and to implement the expanded emergency allotments, BOTH a state and a federal public health emergency must be in place. With the Supreme Court striking down Governor Evers' public health emergency order, Wisconsin will no longer be eligible for these increased benefits. As a result, over 410,000 Wisconsin households will not have access to over $70 million each month in increased FoodShare benefits (USDA).
Driven upward by COVID-19, the number of recipients of Wisconsin's FoodShare program totals 773,339 as of February 2021, a 28% increase over February 2020 (DHS). While FoodShare supports families, FoodShare also supports the whole U.S. food chain from farmers and processors to retailers and manufacturers. Every $1 in FoodShare benefits generates roughly $1.79 in economic activity in America (USDA). With the potential loss of about $69M a month, not only would many Wisconsinites struggle to put food on their table, but Wisconsin would also miss out on a stimulus opportunity to channel federal dollars back to our local economies.
Feeding Wisconsin is a network of 6 food banks and about 1,000 local food programs including food pantries, meal sites, and residential facilities. In 2020, Feeding Wisconsin's food banks distributed 79 million pounds of food. As we anticipate that demand will continue far into 2021 as the pandemic and resulting economy crisis continues to put a toll on the wellbeing of our communities, our network will be faced with a demand greater than we can fulfill without the support of government programs, such as FoodShare. Without the increased allotments, it is likely that our food banks and pantries will see another surge in those needing emergency food assistance. We ask Governor Evers and the state legislature to work together to find a solution that ensures all families have access to the food and food benefits they need to work, learn, play and live healthy lives.