The 2009 American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act, which provided
temporary extra funding, expired
last Thursday, decreasing food share
“The Food Share program
is intended to supplement food
purchasing abilities for low-income
families,” said Mandy Mayek,
the family and support services
supervisor for the Portage County
Health and Human Services Center.
Those who received public
assistance benefits were given a
temporary increase in 2009 due to
an economic stimulus that was put
in place to help people through the
The temporary legislation that
boosted all benefits for people
receiving food stamps ended on Oct.
31, and those families or individuals
will see a reduction to their benefits
implemented on Nov. 1.
“There are 3,000 cases in Portage
County, meaning about 7,000 people
will be affected,” Mayek said.
In Wisconsin there are about
861,000 recipients who will be
impacted by the change. That
results in about an $89 million cut in
Since this is a federal change,
millions more across the nation are insimilar situations.
“There will be an average decrease of about $9 per person per
month,” Mayek said.
The size of the household
determines the amount of money that
will no longer be supplied by the
These cuts can be dramatic for
families who rely on the benefits. An
average cut of $9 for one person is
about one meal for that individual.
There are policies related to
student eligibility, and individuals
enrolled part- or full-time in college
must meet certain exceptions to be a
part of the Food Share Program.
“A lot of students are ineligible,
but there is a decent chunk of
students who are. It is a common
misconception that students cannot
receive the benefits,” said Mayek.
Some of the exceptions for those
students looking to get benefits
include: a 20-hour or more workweek,
enrollment in work-study, having a
child under the age of six, or inability
“I encourage people to apply
if they need assistance. Error on
the side of applying and the worst
case scenario is that they would get
denied,” said Mayek.
Regardless of the cuts, there will
always be some financial assistance
provided to recipients in need.