By Mariana Barillas
Wisconsin has announced that significant reforms of its statewide food benefits program have led to nearly 15,000 gaining meaningful employment, joining a national trend toward putting more food stamp recipients to work.
Republican Gov. Scott Walker led a campaign to require able-bodied adults without dependents who participate in FoodShare, the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, to work at least 80 hours a month or risk limits to their benefits beginning in April 2015.
The existing FoodShare Employment and Training (FSET) program was redesigned last year to help participants meet the federally mandated criteria while providing them free resources they need to enter the job market so that they can be weaned off government benefits.
Fifteen months after the program’s approximately $60 million recreation, Walker announced that Wisconsin Department of Health Services data shows that 14,400 FSET participants, 38 percent of those eligible, have found employment, averaging $11.99 per hour and working a little over 32 hours a week, which is significantly more than the state’s minimum wage and the minimum requirement to keep food benefits.