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Wisconsin Republicans want to decide what poor people eat

By staff |
June 4, 2015
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Madison, WI - Last month, the Republican-dominated State Assembly continued their attempts to shame the 856,000 Wisconsin people using the food stamp program (called FoodShare), passing measures that would restrict what food could be purchased and requiring drug testing. The senate has yet to take up the measures. Governor Scott Walker has been advocating for the changes.

The drug testing requirement for FoodShare recipients was passed, though drug testing was already found unconstitutional in Florida last year.

About two thirds of benefits for each FoodShare recipient would only be allowed for the purchase of certain items, including produce, beef, chicken, canned white potatoes and things approved for the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) nutrition program. This provision would bar the purchase of crab, shrimp or any other shell fish.

The legislation also suggests that the FoodShare card (similar to a credit card) would be scanned before each individual item to be purchased, with the state’s Department of Health Services being responsible for the extra cost to retailers to implement this change. If passed, this draconian measure would dramatically increase time in the checkout line as well as costing the state millions of dollars.

These proposals come at the heels of other recent attacks on FoodShare, including the re-imposed work requirement of 20 hours per week for adults without children. During the recent economic crisis, this provision was suspended, but now it’s back. If an adult does not meet the work requirement, they are barred from receiving more than three months assistance in a three year period. Republicans are also pushing for a photo to be on the card as part of the broader efforts of ‘cracking down on fraud.’

This disgraceful attack on access to food in Wisconsin comes at a time when long-term unemployment remains high and good paying jobs are hard to find. Measures like the recently passed so called ‘right to work’ law promise to make things worse.