United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Acting Deputy Under Secretary and Administrator of Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services (FNS) Brandon Lipps traveled to Wisconsin today to learn more about the state’s unique approach to helping more people move from government assistance to true independence, as well as Wisconsin’s innovative approach to integrated services and systems to ensure access for people who depend on programs such as FoodShare and Medicaid. Lipps met with Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Linda Seemeyer and other DHS leaders before touring the Dane County Job Center and Just Bakery, a worker training location in Madison.
“FNS is committed to ensuring SNAP participants have the food they need while helping them obtain steady, good-paying jobs that allows them to support themselves and their families long-term,” said USDA Acting Deputy Under Secretary Lipps. “Wisconsin’s collaboration with Just Bakery is a great example of how USDA and states can work together to help move able-bodied SNAP recipients to self-sufficiency.”
Under Governor Scott Walker, Wisconsin has invested more than $60 million in the FoodShare Employment and Training (FSET) program. Since work requirements went into effect in 2015 for able-bodied adults, more than 27,000 people in the state have moved into the workforce.
At Just Bakery, a vocational and employment training facility, the group toured the new location in Madison and met with current FSET trainees, as well as people who went through the program and are now employed.
“What makes Wisconsin unique is our investment in the people,” Secretary Seemeyer said. “Wisconsinites are hard-working and proud, and we appreciate the opportunity to showcase how the FSET program creates opportunities for those who just need a little help in gaining employment to get back on track to a solid financial future.”
At the Dane County Job Center, the group learned about the state’s unique approach to integrated systems and services. Wisconsin operates a highly integrated system that uniquely identifies individuals and cases and efficiently shares data across multiple eligibility programs. This streamlined process allows for greater efficiencies and improved fraud detection.
DHS also demonstrated how the state moved to a Consortia model for economic support which allows for call/case banking for eligibility determinations. This hybrid approach is a model that promotes efficiency and timeliness for operations and improves access for members.
In April, Governor Walker signed the Wisconsin Works for Everyone welfare reform package to help more people move from government dependence to true independence. This legislation includes an expansion of FSET opportunities for more parents of school-aged children, allows for changes to required number of hours under the FSET program, and limits assets for government assistance eligibility.