800,000 Wisconsin families to see reduction in Foodshare program - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

800,000 Wisconsin families to see reduction in Foodshare program

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WISCONSIN (WKOW)-- Starting November 1st more than 800,000 Wisconsin families on food stamps will have less money when they head to the grocery store.

Federal cuts mean more than $89 million less to the Wisconsin FoodShare program.

The average family of four who uses the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or FoodShare program as it's known in Wisconsin, will experience a cut of $36 a month starting November 1st. For most families it's a 26% cut.

"Their dollars are already stretched pretty thin. That's why they're coming here," Jenny Czerkas of The River Food Pantry says.

The River Food Pantry in Madison hit an all-time record this October with more than 2,800 family visits. With the Foodshare reduction they expect things to get even busier. On Thursday they brought in an extra truckload of food to keep up with the added demand.

"There will be more need. I don't think there is any question about that because that amount of money will affect people," Andy Czerkas of The River Food Pantry says.

The reduction is happening because the 2009 American Re-Investment and Recovery Act officially expires on Friday. Congress passed it to give the SNAP program a boost to help low-income families through the tough economy.

Democrat Congressman Mark Pocan is co-authoring a bill to extend that boost for another year.

"The economy is still bouncing back. We still have 11.5 million people unemployed, millions more are under-employed," Pocan says. "This is still a really crucial part for a lot of people who are living in poverty. The minimum we can do is extend this for another year."

Pocan says right now congress is more focused on passing a new farm bill, so it could be a while before his bill gets any attention in Washington. In the meantime food pantries will do the best they can to fill the void.

"We'll probably add another pantry session and just keep going the way we have been," Andy Czerkas says.

Congressman Pocan will visit food pantries in Madison to get their take on his new bill. He'll also meet with families on the FoodShare program to see how the reduction will affect them.

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