MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Thousands of people in Wisconsin's FoodShare program saw their food stamps subsidies decrease dramatically. Officials say it happened to some of the state's poorest residents by mistake!
"It was bad because we have to spend all of our money and sometimes borrow," Molly Hoenigke said.
Last April, Hoenigke got a big surprise. Instead of the usual $70 a month in FoodShare benefits on her Quest card, her benefits dropped to $15 for the month.
"I was surprised because, you know, most seniors are on a fixed income and disabled people too, so I was surprised but I thought 'well, what can I do about it,'" Hoenigke said.
Fortunately, something was done about it. The Hunger Task Force took notice.
Sherrie Tussler, the executive director of the Hunger Task Force says it all started after the "Farm Bill" passed. A provision concerning FoodShare utility credit was mistakenly applied to people living in subsidized housing like Hoenigke. Their FoodShare benefits were reduced, in some cases, by as much as $100.
"For people who live in subsidized housing, we questioned that because we knew that they were very low income. We knew they were struggling and it didn't seem to make a lot of sense," Tussler said.
After a few inquiries, the mistake was recognized, and things changed.
"As a result, since a mistake was made, those benefits would also be backdated," Tussler said.
Hoenigke called the Department of Health Services.
"When I called the lady she said 'you will be getting November 1st, $78.44,'" Hoenigke said.
Tussler says everyone who thinks they're affected should be just as proactive as Hoenigke.
"The likelihood of the state being able to find everyone of those cases and say 'we're so sorry' is always slim to none," Tussler said.
If you live in subsidized housing and believe you may have had your benefits incorrectly calculated, you may be eligible to have your FoodShare benefit amount restored and backdated. You need to call Milwaukee Enrollment Services at 1-888-947-6583. You're asked to have your FoodShare case number available when you call. That number can be found on any letter you have received regarding your FoodShare benefits.
When a worker answers, you're asked to provide your case number and tell them you live in subsidized housing and need to see if you are receiving the "Heating Standard Utility Allowance."
If you prefer to receive help in person, you can go to one of the following addresses: