|We've got NEWS|
|Thursday, November 19, 1998 |
Tommy G. Thompson
News Media Contact
DWD News Office
Food Stamp Access
Secretary Linda Stewart today released the following statement:
"A nationwide decline in the number of families receiving Food Stamps and recent national news coverage about possible efforts in other parts of the country to discourage Food Stamp applications naturally raise questions about what s happening in Wisconsin.
"Food stamps are an important support to low income families. The Department of Workforce Development is committed to making eligible families aware of this benefit and ensuring food stamp processing is quick and efficient. In fact, in Wisconsin, individuals receive food stamps more promptly than the federal regulations require.
"While Wisconsin has seen a decline in the number of Food Stamp recipients along with many other states, our decline has been less than the national average, even as our welfare caseload has dropped more than that of any other state. This demonstrates that Wisconsin is doing a better job than other states in letting our clients know about the availability of food stamps.
"In Milwaukee County, for example, agencies have been operating with expanded service hours. We also are experimenting with an expansion in the number of sites where Food Stamp applications can be taken. The reason these and other initiatives are being undertaken is to make it easier for people to get Food Stamps.
"Its also consistent with DWD written policy to these agencies which states that they are to issue Food Stamps promptly to recipients without any delay caused by the agencys administrative procedures.
"For example, the first person people will talk with when they visit one of these offices is someone who is assigned to quickly determine whether the individual may be eligible for priority Food Stamp processing.
"Some people need immediate help, and this is our way to make sure they get it.
"The written checklist that the receptionist uses specifically asks about the need for Food Stamps. The individual doesnt have to ask about this program to get information about it.
"It is important to note that it is this date that determines when benefits begin. Even if an individual must meet with other individuals on other days, benefits are provided as of this application date, and they must be provided by federal law within seven days, for those entitled to expedited processing, or 30 days for all other requests.
"Individuals usually then will see a resource specialist during this same visit. However, the purpose of that contact is intended to identify other possible services needed, beyond just Food Stamps.
"As we become aware that people sometimes have to wait longer than they would like for some of these services, the state and W-2 agencies continually work in partnership to identify ways to expedite processing. But, again, the benefits are not delayed, because the application date is the controlling date.
"We also are told by some that an increase in use of food pantries is evidence that W-2 is not working as it should. In fact, some of the increased demand on the pantries is from those not in W-2, while another group are people who found out about food pantries only because of their W-2 involvement.
"Despite all this, were also still looking at additional ways to get information about Food Stamps to more people before they even come to our offices.
"Our goal is to help families who need it. Anyone who is aware of a family needing food stamp assistance should refer them to their local W-2 agency.
"The bottom line is that the Food Stamp program is working well in Wisconsin, even as we continue to work with the counties and W-2 agencies to make the program even better."
For an e-mail version of this news release,