Wisconsin

Assistance Programs, Local Agencies and Charities

Food  Housing  Cash Assistance  Bills  Health  Education  Employment

 

QUICK INFO BOX

  • Wisconsin FoodShare  – Monthly food stamp benefits to help low-income people and families buy the food they need for good health, Call: 800-362-3002
  • Wisconsin Works (W-2)  – Provides cash assistance and services to qualifying Wisconsin parents of minor children and helps participants develop an employability planCall: 608-267-3905
  • Wisconsin Telephone Assistance Program (Lifeline) – Offers discounts on basic monthly service for qualified telephone customers, Call: Local telephone company
  • Wisconsin Emergency Assistance (EA) Designed to provide help in case of emergency to eligible low-income Wisconsin families with a childCall: 608-267-3905
  • Wisconsin BadgerCare Plus  – A health care coverage program for low-income Wisconsin residents, Call: Local agency
  • Wisconsin Care4Kids Program – Designed to offer comprehensive and coordinated health services for Wisconsin children and youth in foster care, Call: 608-397-8850
  • Wisconsin Shares Program  – Provides financial child care assistance to low-income parents who are working or preparing to enter the workforce, Call: 608-267-3905
  • Wisconsin Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)  – Healthy foods, breastfeeding support, nutrition education, health care referrals, Call: 608-266-9824
  • Wisconsin National School Lunch Program (NSLP)  Provides low-cost or free lunches to school children, Call: 608-266-3390
  • Wisconsin Special Milk Program  – Offers milk to children in schools, childcare institutions, and eligible camps, Call: 608-266-3390
  • Wisconsin School Breakfast Program (SBP)  Provides low-cost or free meals to school children, Call: 608-266-3390
  • Wisconsin Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)  – Provides free meals and snacks to help low-income children in the summer months, Call: 608-266-3390
  • Wisconsin Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)  Provides healthy meals and snacks to children and adults receiving day care, Call: 608-266-3390
  • Wisconsin Head Start  – Comprehensive child development programs serving low-income children and their familiesCall: Local program
  • Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP) Designed to help eligible low-income households pay for heating and electric service, Call: 866-432-8947
  • Wisconsin Weatherization Assistance Program (WisWAP) – Assists households reduce energy bills by improving energy efficiency of their homes, Call: 608-267-3680
  • Wisconsin Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)  – Offers free, nutritious foods to low-income seniors aged 60 years and older, Call: 800-362-3002
  • Wisconsin Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP)  – Provides low-income seniors with special checks to buy fresh, nutritious fruits, vegetables, and herbs from authorized farmers’ markets, Call: 608-267-3201
  • Wisconsin Housing Choice Voucher Program  – Helps eligible low-income households lease privately owned rental units from participating landlords, Call: Local PHA
  • Wisconsin Public Housing  – Provides safe, decent, and affordable rental units for eligible low-income residents., Call: Local PHA

Food Assistance Programs, Services, and Organizations in Wisconsin

FoodShare Wisconsin Program

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or the Food Stamps Program as it is known by the public, is a federal program that provides grants to the States for purpose of reducing the hunger and malnutrition in all eligible households across the nation. SNAP helps provide healthy food to qualifying low-income families with children, elderly or disabled in each State of the USA, including Wisconsin. Learn more about SNAP.

It is important to know that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a federal entitlement program funded by U.S. Government grants. Any U.S. Citizen, even some legal alien residents, will get free food assistance as long as they meet the SNAP eligibility guidelines. In other words, there is enough Supplemental Nutrition Assistance for every American that qualifies.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has many rules and they can vary from state to state and year to year. Under the SNAP federal guidelines each State operates its own version of the food assistance program.

In State of Wisconsin, the SNAP is known as FoodShare Wisconsin and is administered by the Department of Health Services (DHS) and its Division of Health Care Access and Accountability. The Federal Government pays 100% of Wisconsin FoodShare Benefits with federal grants appropriated for SNAP. The SNAP federal grants also pay a share of the Wisconsin SNAP administrative cost.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Social and Health Services “FoodShare Wisconsin was created to help stop hunger and to improve nutrition and health. FoodShare helps people with limited money buy the food they need for good health.”

 

Who is Eligible for FoodShare (Food Stamp) Benefits in Wisconsin?

The eligibility rules and benefit amounts in Wisconsin, like in other States, are based on limited income, limited liquid resources, household size, and other requirements, some of them specific to each State. Most eligibility rules are determined by regulations issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service.

It is important to know that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a federal entitlement program funded by U.S. Government grants. Any U.S. Citizen, even some legal alien residents, will get free food assistance as long as they meet the SNAP eligibility guidelines. In other words, there is enough Supplemental Nutrition Assistance for every American that qualifies.

The federal law allows States some flexibility when implementing SNAP on a State level. State agencies can adapt some of the food assistance program rules in order to meet the needs of eligible, low‐income local population.

FoodShare Wisconsin is a food assistance program designed for individuals and families with limited income resources, who compose a household, and purchase and prepare their meals together for home consumption.

For the purpose of the FoodShare program, certain people must be included in one household account even if they purchase and prepare meals separately. Husbands and wives of any household member, their children under age 22 when living together, plus children younger than 18 who are dependents of an adult household member are all considered as a part of one household formation.

In Wisconsin anyone with limited income and resources may apply for food stamps but, in general, to qualify for FoodShare Benefits you must meet the following basic eligibility requirements:

  • Wisconsin Resident – must be a U.S. Citizen or a legal resident with SNAP eligible non-citizen status;
  • Work Requirement – unless exempted, each able-bodied household member who is 16 through 59 year old must be registered to work, and accept a suitable employment offer;
  • Limited Resources – standard test requires households to have countable assets limited to $2,250 or less ($3,250 or less for households containing a member who is disabled or 60 years of age or older) – the standard resource test does not apply to categorically eligible households (inquire with DHS about details);
  • Income Limits –  Income limits eligibility depends on the household size and composition. Households with no elderly or disabled individuals must meet both standard gross (130% of federal poverty level – FPL) and net income (100% of FPL) limits. Households with elderly or disabled individuals must meet only the net income limits. Gross monthly income eligibility standards for households where elderly, disabled are a separate household is 165% of FPL – see the table below. Gross income includes wages, salaries, commissions, dividends, child support, self-employment income, unemployment compensation, social security benefits and other listed income sources.

See the table for Maximum Monthly Income allowable for FoodShare benefits eligibility in State of Wisconsin as per household size:

Oct. 1, 2015 through Sept. 30, 2016 USDA FNS SNAP Max Income
Household SizeGross Monthly Income Limits
(165% of poverty)
Gross Monthly Income Limits
(130% of poverty)
Net Monthly Income Limits
(100% of poverty)
1$1,619$1,276$981
2$2,191$1,726$1,328
3$2,763$2,177$1,675
4$3,335$2,628$2,021
5$3,907$3,078$2,368
6$4,479$3,529$2,715
7$5,051$3,980$3,061
8$5,623$4,430$3,408
Each additional member+$572+$451+$347

Source: USDA, SNAP Income Eligibility Standards

Some Wisconsin residents may be automatically or so called categorically eligible for FoodShare benefits if they already participate in other means tested assistance programs or getting any benefits from programs funded by federal grants. In State of Wisconsin all notices of FoodShare eligibility approval or revision include a description of “Job Center of Wisconsin” employment services. This is a job search program run by the Department of Workforce Development and is partially funded by federal grants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Under the federal rules, receiving such notice makes individuals with income of less than 200% of the FPL as categorically eligible for FoodShare benefits, thus bypassing the standard eligibility rules.

 

Quick FoodShare Eligibility Check

Use this Pre-Screening Tool to find out if you may be eligible to get Wisconsin FoodShare Benefits (Food Stamps).

The screening allows interested in getting Wisconsin food stamps to provide some basic information and find out if they are potentially eligible for benefits.

If you use this Pre-Screening Tool you will be notified immediately on the screen if you qualify after completing the questionnaire. This is a pre-screening information, and you still have to make an application at your local Wisconsin DHS office.

Even if you are unsure whether you would qualify you still may be eligible for FoodShare Benefits and you should still apply. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is the agency in State of Wisconsin that can make final determination regarding your FoodShare application in this State and grant you benefits.

 

What are Maximum Wisconsin FoodShare (Food Stamp) Benefits?

If approved, the Wisconsin FoodShare benefit amounts depend on the household size and the amount of the their net income. USDA has maximum SNAP benefit limits per month per household size. Check below what are the maximum food stamp monetary amounts a household can get. The dollar amounts of the food stamp benefits are called allotments.

Oct. 1, 2015 - Sept. 30, 2016 USDA Max SNAP Allotments
Household SizeMaximum Food Assistance Monthly Allotment
1$194
2$357
3$511
4$649
5$771
6$925
7$1,022
8$1,169
Each additional member$146

Source: USDA, SNAP Maximum Allotments

 

How to Apply for FoodShare Benefits in Wisconsin?

To apply for FoodShare benefits in State of Wisconsin use the Application for FoodShare form offered by the Department of Health Services.

Complete all required information and mail or submit the application your local County Department of Health and Human Services office. If you do not have all the information that is needed to complete the FoodShare application, provide as much as you can – but you must include your name, address, social security number, and your signature for the DHS office to accept it. All required information and its verification can be provided later or upon request.

If you are eligible, your FoodShare Benefits will start from the date the DHS receives your application and your household is determined as eligible. Providing more complete information initially would help the DHS office determine your eligibility more quickly.

Applicants for FoodShare Benefits in State of Wisconsin have the right to file an application in person, through an authorized representative, by fax, by mail, or online. The Application for FoodShare Benefits may be submitted to any local County Department of Health and Human Services. To apply by mail, send the completed application and any proof/verification to:

If you live in Milwaukee County:

MDPU
PO Box 05676
Milwaukee WI 53205
Fax: 1-888-409-1979

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If you do not live in Milwaukee County:

CDPU
PO Box 5234
Janesville, WI 53547-5234
Fax: 1-855-293-1822

If you want to fax your FoodShare Wisconsin Application, call the DHS at: 1-800-362-3002 to confirm the FAX numbers listed for each location.

The FoodShare application process includes an eligibility interview and information verification. For convenience, interviews can be completed in person or by phone.

At the interview, a DHS caseworker who will determine if you qualify for benefits, and if you do, determine the amount of monthly benefits. You will also receive information about job requirements and your responsibilities when participating in FoodShare program.

Within 30 days of the interview, if eligible, you will receive a notice stating how much food assistance benefit and for how long your household is eligible for before a review of the case is due, along with reporting requirements.

The FoodShare benefit amount depends on the household size and its net income – that is all countable income minus all allowable deductions.

If Wisconsin DHS finds you eligible for FoodShare benefits, you will be entitled to receive food stamps from the date your signed application was received.

Wisconsin FoodShare applicants also have the option to apply for benefits online, using Access – the Wisconsin State Online Application System that enables users to apply for FoodShare and other Wisconsin State assistance programs and services.

 

Wisconsin FoodShare Benefits Approval, Rules, Proofs Required

The DHS has to verify provided information and interview you before determining if the household is eligible for FoodShare Benefits.

Here are some examples of what DHS may require you to present as proof when applying for FoodShare Benefits.

  • Identity
    • U.S. Passport
    • State Driver License
    • School picture ID
    • Military ID or draft record
    • Military dependent ID card
  • Citizenship
    • U.S. Passport
    • U.S. Birth Certificate
    • Citizenship ID card
    • Military record
    • Adoption papers
    • Hospital record of U.S. birth
  • Alien Status
    • Alien Registration card
    • Naturalization certificate
  • Social Security Number
  • Earned Income
    • Check stubs for the last 30 days
    • An Employer Verification of Earnings (EVF-E)
  • Other Income:
    • Unemployment benefits
    • Social Security income
    • Tribal income
    • Educational benefits (student loans, grants, work – study)
    • Supplemental Security income (SSI)
    • Child Support
    • Railroad benefits
    • Rental income
    • Retirement or pension
    • Veteran Administration (VA) or military benefits
    • Trusts
    • Interests / Dividends
  • Resources
    • Cash
    • Checking accounts
    • Savings accounts
    • College funds
    • Trusts
    • IRA / 401k
    • CDs
    • Money market accounts
    • Bonds
    • Retirement fund
    • Life insurance
  • Dependent Care Expenses
  • Medical Expenses

Additional information and proof may be required depending upon your situation.

Applicants for FoodShare benefits in Wisconsin should get a response within 30 days from the date they submitted their application to the local DHS office. When start getting FoodShare benefits, households must report any changes of their situation in a set period of time in order to assure their participation in the Wisconsin FoodShare Program.

SNAP regulations require all non‐exempt household members to comply with work requirements. Work requirements include registering for work, not voluntarily quitting a job, and accepting a suitable employment offer. As per federal SNAP guidelines, individuals who fail to comply with SNAP work requirements without good cause are ineligible for program benefits and disqualified from SNAP for certain periods of time, depending on how many prior instances of non‐compliance there have been.

The law limits the SNAP benefits to 3 months in a 3-year period for all able-bodied adults between the ages of 18-49 without dependents, who are not working or participating in a work program for at least 20 hours each week.

As part of the SNAP federal grant assistance requirements, each State has to offer employment and training (E&T) program to its SNAP benefits recipients. Participants in such programs, where available, can get adult education, vocational training, job skills training for specific jobs, and work experience via short-term unpaid work assignments.

Wisconsin FoodShare recipients may choose to participate in the FoodShare Employment and Training (FSET) Program if eligible. The program provides training and education with a goal of assisting FoodShare clients to attaining a living wage career.

To find more information about the FoodShare Employment and Training Program call your local County Job Center.

 

Approved! When and How Do I Get the FoodShare Benefits?

Wisconsin FoodShare Program provides the benefits via the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. The monetary benefits of the Wisconsin FoodShare Benefits are transferred to the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through an Wisconsin Quest Card, which is issued to anyone approved for FoodShare benefits.  The FoodShare Benefits are deposited into the recipients accounts each month following the Benefit Issuance Schedule.

Benefits are made available over the first 15 days of every month, based on the eighth digit of the client’s SSN:
Eighth digit of the SSN is: 0 = benefits are issued on the 2nd of each month
Eighth digit of the SSN is: 1 = benefits are issued on the 3rd of each month
Eighth digit of the SSN is: 2 = benefits are issued on the 5th of each month
Eighth digit of the SSN is: 3 = benefits are issued on the 6th of each month
Eighth digit of the SSN is: 4 = benefits are issued on the 8th of each month
Eighth digit of the SSN is: 5 = benefits are issued on the 9th of each month
Eighth digit of the SSN is: 6 = benefits are issued on the 11th of each month
Eighth digit of the SSN is: 7 = benefits are issued on the 12th of each month
Eighth digit of the SSN is: 8 = benefits are issued on the 14th of each month
Eighth digit of the SSN is: 9 = benefits are issued on the 15th of each month

If you have any question regarding your EBT Account or EBT Card call Wisconsin EBT Customer Service: 1-877-415-5164

 

How and Where to Use the FoodShare Benefits?

When approved, Wisconsin FoodShare beneficiaries will get Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards – a Quest Card. Wisconsin EBT cardholders may use their Wisconsin EBT card in authorized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) stores in any of the 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, Guam and the Virgin Islands.

Check this list of Wisconsin FoodShare (SNAP) participating stores that are authorized to take EBT cards for purchasing of FoodShare eligible food items. Eligible food items are any food to be eaten at home by people, including baby food, non-alcoholic beverages, and seasonings. Seeds and plants to grow food for your own family’s consumption are also allowed to be purchased with food stamp benefits. You cannot buy non-grocery items with food stamp benefits, such as cleaning products, pet food, paper products, alcohol, or tobacco.

 

I Need Food Assistance Now. It is an Emergency!

Some households may get Expedited Services – that is getting FoodShare Benefits within 7 calendar days if your household has less than $150 in monthly gross income and liquid resources (cash, checking or savings accounts) of $100 or less; or your rent/mortgage and utilities are more than your household’s combined monthly income and liquid resources; or a member of your household is a migrant or seasonal farm worker. In order to get expedite assistance, if you qualify for it, provide all required information and proof as soon as possible. Call 1-800-362-3002 for more information on Wisconsin FoodShare Program.

 

Homeowners Assistance and Housing Programs

Wisconsin – Making Home Affordable options

Making Home Affordable is a federal program designed to cover different homeowners’ hardships and financial situations. Under the program there are various options that can help Wisconsin homeowners in hardship stay in their homes. Depending on the situation Wisconsin homeowners in hardship can apply to lower their monthly payments, lower the interest rate on their home loan or even get principal reduction in some cases.

There are foreclosure alternatives and temporarily help for unemployed homeowners as well.

Here are some of the most used options under Making Home Affordable Program:

HUD (US Department of Housing and Urban Development) approved housing counselor can be reached at: 888-995-4673  (Hearing impaired: 877-304-9709 TTY) to help you understand your options, prepare your application, and work with your mortgage company.

 

Homeowners Assistance and Housing Programs

Wisconsin – Making Home Affordable options

Making Home Affordable is a federal program designed to cover different homeowners’ hardships and financial situations. Under the program there are various options that can help Wisconsin homeowners in hardship stay in their homes. Depending on the situation Wisconsin homeowners in hardship can apply to lower their monthly payments, lower the interest rate on their home loan or even get principal reduction in some cases.

There are foreclosure alternatives and temporarily help for unemployed homeowners as well.

Here are some of the most used options under Making Home Affordable Program:

HUD (US Department of Housing and Urban Development) approved housing counselor can be reached at: 888-995-4673  (Hearing impaired: 877-304-9709 TTY) to help you understand your options, prepare your application, and work with your mortgage company.