Wisconsin FoodShare


Public Benefits are under fire in Wisconsin. Earlier this week, a joint committee of Democrats and Republicans in Madison held a public hearing on 10 bills that could change the way welfare works.

LaToya Dennis

Big changes to Wisconsin’s welfare system could be afoot. On Tuesday, Gov. Walker announced that his budget will put work requirements in place for able-bodied recipients with school-aged kids. 

Walker says his proposals get back to the very nature of what former Gov. Tommy Thompson had in mind, when he overhauled the state’s welfare program in the 1990s.

Before President Bill Clinton signed welfare reform into law in the mid 1990s, Gov. Tommy Thompson had already implemented similar legislation here. His new welfare system was called Wisconsin Works, also known as W-2.

It’s been one year since Governor Walker enacted new rules for thousands of FoodShare recipients. Since last April, all able-bodied adults without dependents are required to put in at least 80 hours of work or training a month in order to receive food benefits. The Walker administration is calling the first year a success, while others say thousands of people are going hungry.

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Wisconsin's Democratic Congressional delegation called on Gov. Walker Tuesday to reverse his decision and accept a federal food stamp waiver, saying it would restore aid to thousands of people.  

In a letter to the governor, Sen. Tammy Baldwin and U.S. Reps. Gwen Moore, Ron Kind and Mark Pocan said low income residents shouldn't be required to have jobs in order to receive food aid if they can't find work in an economic downturn.

Ann-Elise Henzl

For the last few months, Wisconsin residents who get food stamps have had to meet a work requirement. 

It’s one of a number of changes lawmakers have approved, or are considering, for the FoodShare program.

Supporters say the changes are about helping people become self-sufficient. Advocates for the poor believe the changes are about making benefits harder to obtain.


In April, the state began requiring some form of work in exchange for FoodShare benefits.

Gov. Scott Walker’s administration also wants to drug test participants, although the USDA says blanket screenings are illegal.

Each month the work mandate kicks in for thousands more FoodShare recipients, when it’s time for their annual benefits renewal.

State Medicaid Director Kevin Moore says there are a couple ways people can satisfy the work requirement.

Assembly Advances New Rules for FoodShare Users

May 13, 2015

Wisconsin people receiving food benefits would have to spend at least 67 percent of them on healthy foods, while certain items would be banned, under a bill the Assembly approved Wednesday.

The prohibited items would include crab, lobster and shrimp.

The bill now moves to the state Senate, which did not consider a similar bill last session.

Any such changes to the FoodShare program in Wisconsin would have to be approved by the federal government - because it funds the program.  So far, the USDA has not given any state permission to impose such restrictions.

littleny - Fotolia.com

Wisconsin might restrict the types of groceries people can buy with FoodShare benefits.

On Thursday, an Assembly committee will listen to people's comments on the proposed new rules for the program designed to help low income people purchase food. Critics question whether the changes would be legal, because 100 percent of the funding for FoodShare comes from the federal government.


A major change to Wisconsin’s FoodShare program took effect this week. Starting April 1, able-bodied adults with no dependent children must work at least 20 hours a week or enroll in a job training program. If not, they’ll lose food stamp benefits.

We visited a public assistance center on Milwaukee’s near north side to talk to people about the new rule. Marie Peete says she has no problem with Wisconsin’s new rule.

LaToya Dennis

On April 1, Wisconsin will enact changes that impact some FoodShare recipients.

New Wisconsin Law Requires Work for Food Stamps

Jul 1, 2014

Thousands of Wisconsin residents, who get what many call food stamps, will now have to work if they want to keep the benefit.


People in Wisconsin receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance will soon see smaller payments. In fact, starting tomorrow – Friday.

Gov. Walker updated Wisconsin's laws on Monday, regarding what constitutes food stamp trafficking - and imposed criminal penalties on violations. The Legislature forwarded the changes to him.

Essay: The Badger State's Junk Food Debate

Jun 6, 2013
Bill Branson

Lake Effect essayist Young Kim say coercing food stamp recipients to buy only “healthy food” is the wrong way to go about it.

Committee Approves Work Rules for Food Benefits

May 22, 2013

The Legislature's budget committee has concurred with Gov. Walker, to require able-bodied adults to either work or attend job training sessions, in order to receive food share benefits.

The requirement would pertain to adults with no children and with incomes up to 200% of the poverty level (approx. $23,000 per individual), and demand 20 hours per week of working or training.

Those who don't meet the requirement, could only receive food 'stamps' for three months every three years.