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Wisconsinites to lose $62M per month in federal food aid

Published: Apr. 4, 2021 at 10:33 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Starting last April, every month, Wisconsin received $50 million in emergency funds to give to those in need of food aid. It’s part of the public health emergency order that Governor Tony Evers put in place last year and eventually extended into 2021.

“The way food share works is its really the poorest of the poor, the people who need it the most, who have no income coming in, that are already receiving the maximum,” said Maureen Fitzgerald, VP of Government Relations, Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin.

In addition to the $50 million, the USDA also expanded its Snap Program, giving an additional $13 million in food aid to another group of struggling Wisconsinites. Totaling $62 million a month for those having a hard time putting food on the table.

”This is people who are getting food help that go to the grocery store and the community that they live in, so they’re getting a little bit of a bump in their FoodShare over a month,” said Fitzgerald.

However, last week’s decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court to strike down the governor’s emergency order, which included the mask mandate, now impacts that federal food aid money, taking it completely off the table.

”So it hurt a lot of people who were already receiving emergency allotments and then there was a whole new group of people who were about to receive emergency allotments and it hurt those people too. So it’s a two and two, about $62 million a month that would be coming into the state of Wisconsin for food aid,” Fitzgerald explained.

Officials with Feeding America are calling this a “double whammy” on those struggling with hunger, just as people are trying to get back on their feet as we come out of a pandemic.

”You don’t want to have to make that choice of whether you’re paying for your rent or putting food on your table, or whether you get to eat or your child gets to eat,” Fitzgerald said.

Action 2 News reached out to Senator Roger Roth on the Supreme Court Decision and his response to the money that will be lost.

“We in the legislature would very much welcome working with the governor to make sure that the federal funds that are available to us, can continue to flow. But he can’t do it unilaterally, he can’t do it unlawfully; that’s what the Supreme Court said today and now moving forward, we’ve got to work together,” Sen. Roth said.

Officials with Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin say that Wisconsin is not eligible for these emergency allotments without a public health emergency in effect.

”The way it works is there has to be a federal public health emergency, which there is. And then there has to be a state public health emergency which Wisconsin lost last week. So Wisconsin has to come together, the governor and the legislature, and agree that it’s important for people to get this help with food,” Fitzgerald explained.

More than 400,000 households in Wisconsin use food share programs. Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin is the state’s largest food bank. Feeding America officials say FoodShare is the largest anti-hunger program in the world.

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