‘Very serious situation:’ Mobile market offers staples at a discount, as shutdown impacts FoodShare

MILWAUKEE -- Some in Milwaukee County who rely on food stamps have been impacted by the partial government shutdown that started on Dec. 22. The Hunger Task Force's "Fresh Perks Mobile Market" offers staples at a discount.

The average family in Milwaukee County receives $111 in federal food assistance each month. Seniors and those with disabilities get $15 per month. The federal government set aside money to fund the FoodShare program during the government shutdown, but only for 30 days. The last of the funds were issued beginning Jan. 20 (February's benefits).

Tuesday, Jan. 22 was a busy day at the Fresh Perks Mobile Market  --a grocery store on wheels that travels throughout Milwaukee County to visit neighborhoods and communities that have limited access to fresh and healthy foods. Along with other staples,  Pick ‘n Save stocks the Fresh Picks Mobile Market with more than 40 seasonal fruits and vegetables and several meat and dairy items in high demand. The market does not sell canned items or processed foods.

Joanne Halada, like many others, comes to the store to save money. Items at the market are 25 percent cheaper than at Pick 'n Save -- and the market accepts FoodShare benefits.

"I get $10 every month -- which buys my milk and bread," said Brenda Stingley, FoodShare recipient.

"I get $13," said Halada.

Some shoppers were already spending their February benefits.

"They gave me $10 early, and I say 'why is this?'" said Stingley.

Jonathan Hansen

The benefits were distributed early due to the government shutdown. That money would be the last until the shutdown ends.

"Right now I'm fine, but I know I'll do without a whole lot less. I'll eat a whole lot less," said Halada.

"This is a very serious situation. We're encouraging people to be very frugal with their February FoodShare benefits. Plan accordingly with those," said Jonathan Hansen, director of development for the Hunger Task Force.

There is only so much Hunger Task Force can do to help. The monthly FoodShare payouts in Milwaukee County are three times more than the Hunger Task Force's budget for the entire year, and for those shoppers, every dollar makes a difference.

"$10 means $1 million to me," said Stingley.

CLICK HERE to check out the Pick 'n Save Fresh Picks Mobile Market schedule.

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