Food pantries see increased traffic as 15,000 residents lose food stamps

Food pantries see increased traffic as 15,000 residents lose food stamps

Almost 15,000 Wisconsin residents lost access to food stamps after new employment rules took effect for the program in April, according to Wisconsin Department of Human Services data.

The mass exodus from the state’s Foodshare program is putting a strain on local food pantries this holiday season, who usually rely on holiday donations to sustain their stores into the New Year. 

“We are seeing more people,” Badger Prairie Needs Network Food Pantry Coordinator Doug Maxwell said, though it is impossible to confirm definitively if it is because of the new regulations. It’s illegal under federal mandate for food pantries to ask “intimidating” questions, including whether or not they are on food stamps.

In the month of October the BPNN food pantry saw their enrollment spike almost 80 percent. Maxwell expects the trend to last well into next year, leaving food pantries scrambling to cover the shortfall, despite their increased efforts to organize spring food drives in the area.

 “And the summer?” Maxwell said. “I haven’t quite worked that one out yet.”