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.
2021-2023 Biennial State Budget
COVID-19 exacerbated food insecurity rates across the country. As of March 2021, Feeding America estimated that 680,330 Wisconsinites (11.7% or just over 1 in 8), including 1 in 5 children, experienced food insecurity in 2020.
Addressing food insecurity in the Wisconsin budget is fundamental to health, education and our Wisconsin values. Feeding Wisconsin supports budget policy that will increase access to fresh, nutritious food for Wisconsin families at home and at school; ensure a strong, accessible, and effective FoodShare program; and improve the health of Wisconsin families. Take Action Today!
Feeding Wisconsin Budget Policy Priorities (click for one-pager)
- Supporting children: Create Healthy, Hunger Free Schools in Wisconsin
- Fully funding and expanding eligibility for reimbursement of the school breakfast program
- Provide state funding to cover the cost of reduced-price school meals
- Funding the Farm-to-School Grant program to get locally-produced foods into cafeterias
- Supporting our farmers: Create opportunities for Wisconsin farmers while working to end hunger in our communities
- Investing $20 Million to connect Wisconsin food banks and pantries with Wisconsin producers to provide food to families experiencing food insecurity
- Provide technology improvements to farmer’s markets and farmers who sell directly to consumers. This program will increase access to Wisconsin grown products to low-income Wisconsin families
- Create a food waste reduction pilot program. The program will seek to connect food producers and distributors with nonprofit organizations that distribute food to those experiencing food insecurity
- Supporting Wisconsin’s largest anti-hunger program: Create a strong, accessible, and effective FoodShare program
- Funding the Healthy Eating Incentives pilot will provide up to 2,000 FoodShare households with discounts on fresh produce and other healthy food options
- Eliminate eligibility barriers to food benefits by repealing the work requirement for FoodShare
- Eliminate eligibility barriers to food benefits and help gaining employment by repealing the drug testing requirement for those participating in the FoodShare Employment & Training program.
Governor's Proposed $20 Million investment to support purchase of WI Food Products by Food Banks and Pantries
As part of a $43 million investment in Wisconsin’s agricultural economy and farm families, Governor Evers proposed Investing $20 million to help connect WI food banks and pantries with Wisconsin producers to source nutritious foods for distribution.
We are grateful that Governor Evers is once again investing in hunger relief during this crisis. The Feeding Wisconsin network continues to see an elevated need that is expected to last years into recovery. Our food banks continue to distribute 50-80% more food than they did in 2019. Additional funding as proposed by the Governor will increase the purchasing power of our food banks to put Wisconsin grown and processed food on the tables of those experiencing food insecurity.
Last year the Governor directed $25M of WI’s CARES Act funding to the Food Security Initiative—just over $12M of those funds came through our food banks and pantries increasing infrastructure capacity and purchasing over $10M in WI ag products--beef, pork, cheese, butter, canned, frozen and fresh produce, etc. Funding through the state budget could operate in a similar manner to support food banks and pantries as they continue to meet the need and distribute more food than ever before.
As a package this proposal directs funds to those who produce our food. Our farmers, producers and processors are the heart of this state and without them, we are unable to do our work of ending hunger.
Please Take Action Today by:
- Providing written and oral testimony at a public hearing (Guidelines for Public Hearing Testimony)
- Writing to your state legislators
- Scheduling virtual meetings with your state legislators
This is especially important if your Senator or Representative sits on the committee that deliberates the budget. Here are the members of the Joint Committee on Finance: Representative Born (Co-Chair), Senator Marklein (Co-Chair), Senator Stroebel, Senator Kooyenga, Senator Felzkowski, Senator Bernier, Senator Ballweg, Senator Erpenbach, Senator Johnson, Representative Loudenbeck, Representative Katsma, Representative Zimmerman, Representative J. Rodriguez, Representative Kurtz, Representative Goyke, and Representative Neubauer.
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.