Wisconsin food stamp enrollment, spending up 30% over pre-coronavirus levels

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A lot more people are on food stamps in Wisconsin right now than before the coronavirus hit. And the program is costing hundreds of millions of dollars more.

Benefit and enrollment numbers from Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services show 792,932 were enrolled in FoodShare, the state’s name for the SNAP program, in June of this year. That’s up from 689,186 people last June, and an increase from 608,359 people in June of 2019.

The numbers also show that food stamp spending has exploded.

In 2019, Wisconsin’s FoodShare program paid-out $773 million in benefits. That jumped to $1.3 billion in 2020, and was already at $1 billion and counting in June of this year.

DHS notes the costs increased, in part, because the federal government is paying people on food stamps more.

“During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, emergency FoodShare allotments have been issued. These emergency allotments take FoodShare households to their maximum allowable amount, and can increase the statewide monthly issuance of FoodShare benefits by more than 50%.imum allowable amount, and can increase the statewide monthly issuance of FoodShare benefits by more than 50%,” DHS noted in its reports.

The cost will soon be higher. The Biden Administration is planning to increase food stamp benefits 25% starting in October.

Brett Healy with the MacIver Institute says it is not a good thing to see so many people on food stamps, and to see so much money being spent on the program.

“As you would expect, when Gov. Evers unnecessarily closed down Wisconsin’s economy and shut down private businesses that he thought were unimportant, food stamp enrollment increased. We went from about 600,000 individuals across the state needing help with food to almost 740,000 individuals by the end of 2020,” Healy told the Center Square. “Unfortunately, with Covid at very low levels for a sustained amount of time, the economy back open and businesses desperate to hire, we are still seeing increasing enrollment in the food stamp program.”

Healy said we need to move people from welfare to work.

“This proves that the Biden Administration’s proposal to increase food stamp benefits is a bad idea and will only make this situation worse. Once again, the Biden Administration needs a basic economics lesson based in reality,” Healy added. “Food stamps and other welfare programs were intended to be a temporary helping hand to those in need. These figures prove that we have made it too easy to avoid joining the workforce.”

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