Due to the date the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that Governor Evers’ public health emergency and mask mandate for COVID-19 was a violation of his executive powers, FoodShare members in Wisconsin will lose out of over $50 million in increased benefits a month.
Wisconsin’s Department of Public Health tells WTMJ they were able to secure the extended funding through the month of April, and they continue to review options to provide the benefits in the future.
“If the public health emergency had lasted another full day, FoodShare members would have been able to receive increased allotments at least through the month of May because USDA allows us to apply for emergency allotments for one subsequent month following any month that an emergency declaration is in place,” says DHS Communication Specialist Elizabeth Goodsitt. “However, because the Wisconsin State Supreme Court chose to rule March 31 and not in April, families will not receive their emergency FoodShare allotments for May and each month thereafter, leaving tens of thousands of families without access to much-needed nutritious foods.
“Overturning the public health emergency takes more than $50 million a month from families looking to put food on their table and, in turn, from our grocers, farmers, and truckers who work in the food industry. The ripple effects of this change will be immediate and devastating for individuals, families, and entire communities. Last week, UDSA announced even more funding for this emergency food program, increasing the loss that Wisconsin families are experiencing in terms of healthy food, as well as what local grocery stores are losing in revenue. We are still working on calculating the exact dollar amount, but Wisconsin will lose millions more.”
The Department of Health Services says since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have been able to secure over $500 million. That is split up to $57.5 million for approximately 255,000 households each month. They say the added benefits have helped the average FoodShare household, by increasing the number of days they are spent from 16 to 23.
DHS says FoodShare households have increased by 140,000 people since the start of the pandemic, with $4.5 million spent at local retailers in December of 2020.
“The direct impact on individuals and families is obvious – it allows families to put food on the table and ensure that children do not go hungry,” says Goodsitt. “It also allows families to stretch their budgets for other critical needs such as prescription drugs, rent, diapers, and other household essentials.”
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is considering options as to how to secure the additional FoodShare funds, but no official proposal has been made.