Wisconsin to lose $50M a month in food aid after Supreme Court strikes down public health emergency

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known as FoodShare in Wisconsin, is the nation’s largest federal nutrition program. Feeding America of Eastern Wisconsin announced Wednesday, March 31, the assistance will soon be slashed following the Wisconsin Supreme Court's decision to strike down Gov. Evers' public health emergency. 

States who enact emergency orders receive additional federal funding for the program after Congress passed the federal CARES Act. Without an emergency order in place, Wisconsin could be at risk of losing $49 million a month for the FoodShare program that helps feed low-income households, according to a memo released by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau in January.

According to a news release from Feeding Wisconsin, the Emergency Allotments allow all SNAP households to receive the maximum SNAP benefit each month. For example, a senior who was receiving $16/month in SNAP now receives the maximum allotment of $234. To receive emergency allotments, there must be BOTH a state and a federal public health emergency. Wisconsin SNAP/FoodShare households will no longer be eligible for the emergency allotments due to the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision made Wednesday, March 31.

“Today’s decision will further increase hunger in Wisconsin,” said Patti Habeck, Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin President and CEO. “Many of the families and individuals in our communities have been relying on these additional funds during the pandemic. Given the drastic increase in the numbers of people we are serving due to the pandemic, FoodShare has helped relieve some of the tremendous pressure on the food bank and the emergency food system as a whole. Families will now be more reliant on local pantries and mobile pantries.”

Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin is Wisconsin’s largest food bank. Last year we distributed 81% more food compared to 2019. In light of these devastating realities faced by families across our footprint, Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin has continued to find ways to meet the ongoing need. On average last year, 492,456 individuals in the 35 counties we serve received FoodShare every month. This resulted in nearly $80 Million in food aid each month being spent in the community.

While vaccine rollout continues and many states are seeing declines in COVID-19 positive cases, the fallout from the pandemic is still incredibly present, especially in poor and food-insecure communities. A study done by McKinsey and Company in partnership with Feeding America National, provides an understanding of supply and demand projections through COVID-19 recovery. It is projected that our network of emergency food programs will continue to see a growing need (in numbers of households accessing our pantries and demand for pounds per family) in the coming months.

According to another study by Feeding America, the food insecurity rate in Wisconsin rose by approximately 28% in Wisconsin in 2020. In some of our counties, particularly our suburban and rural counties, the food insecurity rate was projected to increase by as much as 60%.

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