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41,000 booted off Wisconsin FoodShare, 12,000 find jobs in first year of work requirement

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MILWAUKEE -- Taxpayers have spent $60 million on new work requirements that have kicked three times as many Wisconsinites off of food benefits than those who found jobs.

One year after the state began forcing people to work or actively look for jobs in order to remain on the FoodShare assistance program, a report released Wednesday showed that 11,971 people had found jobs. Meanwhile,  41,149 people lost benefits after not meeting the requirement.

Governor Walker meets a few of those placed at JC Penney's call center in Wauwatosa through Wisconsin's FoodShare Employment and Training program

Governor Walker meets a few of those placed at JC Penney's call center in Wauwatosa through Wisconsin's FoodShare Employment and Training program

Gov. Scott Walker promoted the program as a success on Wednesday, April 20 at a J.C. Penney customer call center in Wauwatosa. The company has hired 50 workers from the state's Milwaukee County job placement contractor, Walker said.

JC Penney call center in Wauwatosa

JC Penney call center in Wauwatosa

"We’re empowering people to live their own lives and control their own destinies from the dignity that really comes from work," Walker told reporters.

Walker said a top goal of the program was reducing the cost of FoodShare for taxpayers.

Yet the state agency that oversees the food benefit program is not tracking how many of the 11,971 newly employed people earn enough money that they no longer need government assistance.

"We do not have a breakdown of 11,971 individuals that have gained employment and the number that are no longer enrolled in the FoodShare Program," said Claire Yunker, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health Services.

FoodShare report

State law now requires many FoodShare recipients to work 80 hours a month, look for work, or participate in the state's worker training program.

As of April 2015, most adults who don't have children living at home must meet the requirement to keep receiving benefits.

Sherrie Tussler

Sherrie Tussler

Critics of the year-old program said that the state's report shows an alarming failure rate.

"$60 million dollars invested in a failed job training program is more than a government boondoggle -- it`s an embarrassment to the taxpayers of the state of Wisconsin," said Sherrie Tussler, executive director of the Hunger Task Force.

Tussler's organization and more than a dozen other groups are calling on Walker to loosen the work requirements in Milwaukee County, where they said there are more workers than available jobs.

Hunger Task Force

Hunger Task Force

The state report shows that 21,551 county residents lost their FoodShare eligibility, while 6,220 found work over the past year.

The state has contracted with ResCare Workforce Services to provide job placement services in Milwaukee County. The Louisville, Kentucky-based company placed the 50 workers at J.C. Penney, Walker said.

"This program and the other programs like it around the state help provide great individuals with great work ethic, with great training, to be able to come into the workforce and fill those positions," the governor said.

Tussler said the company should lose its contract for failing to place more workers countywide.

"There`s enough food for everybody in the state, and there`s no reason to force people into hunger because they can`t find a job," Tussler said.

Senator Tammy Baldwin issued this statement to FOX6 News following the release of the FoodShare report:

Last month, I sent a letter to Governor Walker calling on him to restore food assistance benefits to over 30,000 low-income Wisconsinites who could go hungry as a result of his actions.

Now, over 25 groups in Wisconsin have sent him a letter urging him to do the same.

Hunger relief providers, community advocates, and religious and fraternal organizations are outraged by Walker’s choice to reject a federal waiver that’s been in place for over a decade.

This waiver was meant to help individuals in areas of high unemployment, like Wisconsin, remain eligible for FoodShare benefits, so they can buy groceries and stay healthy. Governor Walker callously dismissed it.

I’ve denounced Governor Walker’s actions and called on him to restore food assistance. Twenty-five Wisconsin organizations and thousands of others have joined me. Will you add your name to the letter?

Wisconsinites are trying hard to find work. Governor Walker’s economic policies aren’t making it any easier. The federal waiver would have allowed Wisconsin to extend nutrition benefits in 20 counties and 10 cities.

Low-income Wisconsinites can’t control the state’s economy. They shouldn’t be punished for the state’s high unemployment and forced to plunge further into poverty.

They certainly shouldn’t lose vital benefits that help them put food on the table.

Sign the letter. Denounce Governor Walker, and demand he reinstate FoodShare benefits for the 30,000 Wisconsinites that need them.

10 comments

  • JS

    “State law now requires many FoodShare recipients to work 80 hours a week, look for work or participate in the state’s worker training program.” 80 HOURS a WEEK??? this has to be a typo!!!

  • idiots

    I would rather help someone who has a job but still isn’t making ends meet. I do not want my tax payer money going to anyone who will not put forward any effort.

  • amerie

    I agree if someone is WORKING and not quite making it I have no problem with tax money helping out but if you’re not willing to get off your ass and try then maybe you should miss a few meals, that can be really inspiring

  • LMY

    The main concern is that there is more unemployment than there are jobs available. It took me almost a year to find a stable job after graduating, I’m glad my husband had a stable job at the time and we had supportive family if needed but I know there are many without the luxury. Be understanding and realize people cannot “get a job” overnight.

    • Michael Neils

      In today’s economy you have to take A job to get THE job. Nothing wrong with cashier, janitor, fast food worker, oil change worker, A job to get THE job. An old tv show just had a lead character get fired. Went to job agency and wanted a big dollar, perk job. The agency had waiter, car salesman, typist. He said no-not what he WANTED. She said to him so what you want is big money, benefits, a company car and a house? Oh YES!! he replied. She said well, there is no such thing. We have to put you down as un-employable. I laughed and laughed. It was from the 80’s but sooooo much how today’s people think. At one point I was working 4 part time jobs just to pay for my family’s health insurance. I finally landed a full time job after 4 years of that nonsense. Now I have part-employer paid health insurance, ONE job to go to, and it’s close to my home :) So many of those mornings I was disappointed to wake up. My life insurance would have my family set. But I hung in there, consumed much caffeine and networked with everyone I ran across at the 4 jobs. I ended up applying on line to a radio ad on my way home-tired, sore and at wit’s end. I never even thought of assistance; being married. I thought it was an unwed parent thing. lol jeepers! how slow am I??

  • chris

    As a hardworking tax payer thank you thank you thank you. It’s about time these leeches get a job. Hopefully we’ll do the same with housing assistance and welfare. Tired of footing the bill for the lazy.

  • Dont want you to know

    I’m a Registered Nurse and I work in homes with children and adults with disabilities. I work a 50 to 60 hour week and am in my sixties. I can’t afford to retire. I have a grown child at home now recovering from cancer surgery. Another with special needs, but on his own and doing well.

    I go into these homes and these people have free rent, food stamps and decent cars paid with tax returns. They have the latest phones with premium plans, new furniture, cost free health care, and cable TV with all the premium channels. They are able to stay home with their kids and not have to pay for day care. When they are old enough they sent them to school all day at Head Start programs. Then complain all day about how tough they have it.

    When they go to the mall they get professional manicures, pedicures and massages. I have never done any of this.

    They look at me and think I must live in the Taj Mahal, but I don’t because we have to pay for all this stuff. My husband and I have always worked.

    I don’t think we should give these people any of these things, except nursing care for their children. I think they should be assessed and have some type of workfare program. Where if they don’t work, they don’t eat. Even if they have to plant flowers in the middle of the street. You are teaching these people absolutely nothing, except giving them them the delusion that they have some type of entitlement.

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