Food stamps cut — 24 percent in county receive assistance

2013-11-03T06:00:00Z 2013-12-17T09:51:55Z Food stamps cut — 24 percent in county receive assistanceALISON BAUTER Journal Times

RACINE COUNTY — A reduction in federal food stamp funding that began Friday will affect almost a quarter of Racine County residents, potentially making it harder for more than 46,000 low-income residents to put food on the table.

A temporary boost to FoodShare, Wisconsin’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, ended Oct. 31, and a congressional extension looks unlikely.

As a result, an estimated 46,889 Racine County residents are set to receive less government assistance to feed themselves and their families, based on estimates from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank based in Washington, D.C., and the state Department of Health Services.

That’s one of the highest number of people per county in the state. Racine County comes in third; behind 71,551 people in Dane County and nearly 345,000 on food stamps in Milwaukee County, according to those same estimates.

It amounts to 24 percent of Racine County residents, and 43 percent of all Racine County children.

That number includes Rochelle Earle, 43, of Racine, and her two children, age 2 and 11.

“It really makes it complicated for the community, “ Earle said. “Jobs are hard to come by ... the price of food is already high.”

The cuts are happening because a temporary boost in benefits for all food stamp recipients, which was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, otherwise known as the federal stimulus, expired last week. Additionally, deeper cuts may be on the way as Congress debates the future of the Farm Bill.

Earle, who said she’s currently seeking a degree from Gateway Technical College and looking for work, knew about the cuts Friday.

A household of three will lose about $29 a month, totaling $319 over the next year, according to analysis from the center.

A single person will see a cut of $11, from $200 to $189 a month, the center said.

But “it’s going to be really hard, I believe, on families who have more children,” Earle said.

Jonathan Delagrave, director of the Racine County Human Services Department, agreed that larger families may especially need to be more efficient with their money as a result.

“Some families are going to have to change their habits of what they buy and what they consume,” Delagrave said, saying that cutting out snack and fatty foods could help stretch FoodShare funds.

Delagrave agreed with the CBPP estimate that about a quarter of Racine County residents will be affected.

He urged families using FoodShare cards not to lose them, because the interim period to replace them could be harder to bridge.

“They might not be able to get through the window,” he said. “It takes time when you lose your FoodShare card.”

Mary Spicuzza and Laura Sparks of the Wisconsin State Journal contributed to this report.

By the Numbers: Racine County FoodShare Cuts

The expiration of a federal boost to FoodShare funding means cuts to the assistance Racine County families and individuals receive through Wisconsin’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

According to numbers from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, those receiving FoodShare assistance in Racine County include...

-- 24 percent of county residents

-- 43 percent of county children

-- 46,889 total people

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