Hunger Task Force joins Cong. Gwen Moore in efforts to protect Federal funds
By Lynda Jones
Last week Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee) wrote Governor Scott Walker and implored him to stop any efforts that jeopardize Federal funding for food stamps.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has written to Wisconsin Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith informing him that proposed changes to FoodShare Wisconsin puts at risk Federal funding Wisconsin receives for food stamps. Just last week, USDA asked for a plan of corrective action as to how Wisconsin will scale back privatization efforts. If the state does not, USDA will suspend funds.
In her letter to Walker, Moore emphasizes that nearly 800,000 Wisconsinites rely on Federal funding to help feed their families, and all the resources used by Wisconsin families participating in Food- Share Wisconsin come from Federal dollars.
She further stresses that it is well known that there are no state funds available to make up for any loss, and losing these funds would be catastrophic for low-income Wisconsites.
“While the economy is slowly adding jobs-it’s not happening fast enough. The impacts of this recession are still being felt across the state, and the need for this funding remains high.” Moore said.
Moore also stated that participation in FoodShare Wisconsin has nearly doubled over the past few years. The average number of monthly recipients has grown from 372,308 in 2006 to 743,836 in 2010.
Furthermore, this would be just one more instance where Wisconsites’ federal tax contributions are spent in another state. Currently, according to USDA, every five dollars spent using food stamps generates up to nine dollars in local economic activity.
Moore also in her letter to Walker stressed that she stands ready to work with the Wisconsin Legislature and Walker to ensure that Wisconsin follows federal law and does not jeopardize this crucial funding.
Meanwhile, the Hunger Task Force, an organization that is committed to working to prevent hunger and malnutrition by providing food to people in need today is also extremely concerned with the state’s actions that are putting federal funding in jeopardy. Hunger Task Force is joining Congresswoman Gwen Moore’s efforts to demand Governor Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Legislature cease efforts to privatize FoodShare (food stamps).
The organization says that with privatization there is a lack of accountability plus the potential loss of federal funding. In the letter that the USDA issued to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services there is a warning of the loss of federal funding to Wisconsin if the State does not provide a corrective action plan regarding the reduction of private sector employees handing FoodShare applications.
The letter also states that during April 2011, Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) staff visited the Madison Enrollment Services (ESC) and the Milwaukee ESC. During those visits, it was determined that the State had expanded the number and scope of the 106 vendor staff that were on board in January 2010. Therefore, since the State did not comply with the requirement that it not expand beyond January 2010 levels, the State is out of compliance and corrective action must occur.
Wisconsin must return to the vendor staffing level (106 vendor staff) and scope of work that were in place when FNS restricted the role of vendor staff in the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) operations in January 2010.
On her website, Congresswoman Moore says, “Wisconsinites pay taxes to Washington, and we deserve that money to come back to our economy. By pursuing these bull-headed and ideologically- driven policies, Governor Walker appears content with Wisconsinites’ Federal tax dollars being spent in Minnesota and Illinois – or any other state.”
Hunger Task Force executive director Sherrie Tussler said, “Privatization of FoodShare is illegal, it cheats hungry people out of their federal FoodShare benefits and tax payers will be forced to re-pay the federal fine in the state of Wisconsin. No matter how you look at it, privatizing Food- Share in Wisconsin is bad business.”
As the newspaper went to print Congresswoman Moore’s office had not received any response from the Walker Administration.