Wisconsin Food Stamps Application Information
How to Apply for Food Stamps
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Foodshare Wisconsin, formerly known as "food stamps", is a federal supplementary nutritional assistance program by the Department of Health Services (DHS) that aims to help the low-income residents get adequate food and nutritional needs each month. Approved beneficiaries will be issued a Wisconsin QUEST card that they will present at selected grocery stores, outlets, and facilities in order to access their Foodshare benefits.
The Foodshare program gives you a very wide range of nutrition benefits and services. A monthly Foodshare allowance is deposited in your account through an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. You will then be able to spend this allowance through the Wisconsin QUEST card, which works just like any other debit card. You just need to present this card to participating stores in order to access your benefits. Any unused amount in your allowance will be carried over to the following month.
In general, Foodshare will allow you to buy the following products at selected grocery stores and outlets:
- Breads and cereals
- Fruits and vegetables
- Meat, fish, poultry
- Dairy products
- Seeds and plants that produce food.
However, there are also certain products not covered by the Foodshare program:
- Non-food items (e.g. pet foods, toiletries, paper products, household supplies, cosmetics)
- Beer, wine, liquor
- Cigarettes or tobacco
- Vitamins or medicines
- Food eaten inside the store
- Hot food
In addition to being able to buy certain food products, Foodshare also allows you to access meals if you are in a drug/alcohol rehabilitation center or a shelter for battered women, the elderly, the disabled, or homeless. These meals are available at establishments that accept the Wisconsin QUEST card. Similarly, if you eat at a group meal site for the elderly, or choose to have meals delivered to your home, Foodshare benefits are applicable to these as well.
While the Foodshare program is administered by the Department of Health Services, the criteria for eligibility still depends on your local social services agency or county/tribal government workers.
Basic eligibility requirements include:
- Your household income is at or below the monthly program limit
- You are a Wisconsin resident
- You are a United States citizen or qualifying immigrant
- You should not live in an institution that already serves food to its residents, such as a nursing home
- You should be cooperative in providing the necessary information to determine your eligibility for the program
Household income and family size are very important factors in determining your eligibility for the Foodshare program. The table available by clicking here presents a list of monthly income limits and number of household members with which your income and household size is compared. You will get a certain amount of credits depending on how your local agency officer assesses your monthly income and family size compared to these limits.
All of the people in your household who will receive benefits from the Foodshare program must be registered in the Foodshare Employment and Training (FSET) program except for the following:
- Individuals younger than 16 years old or older than 60 years old
- Individuals physically and mentally unfit for employment
- Household members taking care of incapacitated persons or children under six years old
- Persons receiving unemployment compensation
- Persons enrolled in a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program
- Persons working a minimum of 30 hours a week or receiving an income equivalent to 30 hours a week
- Students enrolled at least half-time in a recognized learning institution
In addition, able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) aged 18-50 years old are also required to work for 20 or more hours per week in order to be eligible for the Foodshares program. Failure to meet the minimum of 20 hours of work for three or more months disqualifies the applicant from receiving benefits. Foodshare eligibility can only be regained if the applicant works for 80 or more hours within a 30-day period.
ABAWDs are exempted from the above work requirement under the following conditions:
- Medically unfit for employment
- Responsible for a dependent child
- He/she resides in an area with a 10% unemployment rate or does not have enough jobs to provide employment to its residents
Students aged 18-49 years old currently enrolled at least half-time in a recognized institution of higher education (e.g. university, technical college, etc.) are generally disqualified from Foodshare benefits. In order to be eligible, at least one of the following criteria must be met:
- Works a minimum of 20 hours a week
- Responsible for the care of a child under 6 years old (or 6-11 years old if it is determined that no adequate child care is available)
- Single parent enrolled full-time and is responsible for the care of a child under 12 years old
- Enrolled in the Wisconsin Works (W2) program
- Participates in a work-study program funded by the state or the federal government
- Participated in an on-the-job training program
- Physically or mentally fit for unemployment
- Assigned to education as part of an authorized employment or training program
Residents affected by natural disasters (e.g. tornadoes, floods, etc.) are also eligible to apply for Foodshare benefits. In this case, a shorter and simpler application process through your local agency officer is used in order for you to get your benefits quickly. Similarly, food bought using the QUEST card that were destroyed during these disasters can also be replaced by Foodshare.
Food Stamps Application Instructions
There are various ways to apply for Foodshare food stamps:
Via Mail/Walk-In Application
Complete the Foodshare Application Form (F-16019B) that can be downloaded by clicking here. or visit your local agency during business hours. You may ask assistance from your county/tribal officer or your social services agency if you have a disability or have trouble filling out the form. To find the agency that handles Foodshare applications in your county, click here.
Call Member Services at 1-800-362-3002 and set an appointment where you can go through the application process. You may also find your local agency's number from the list by clicking here and call them directly for appointments.
To sign up for food stamps Online: log in with your Wisconsin username and password then fill out the form here. If you don't have a username and password yet, click the "Create an Account" option on the website.
An important step in completing the application process is going through an interview with a Foodshare or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) eligibility worker either over the phone or in person. Your household's total monthly income is an important determining factor on whether you will be issued Foodshare benefits or not. Thus, you will be asked to provide proof of your identity, address (except if you are homeless), and monthly gross income before taxes.
You may use the following documents as proof of identity and address:
- Birth certificate
- Driver's license
- US Citizen card
- Employee ID
- Hospital records
For monthly gross income, you may use the following:
- All check stubs received in the last 30 days
- Employer Verification of Earnings form
- A signed statement from the employer that includes gross earnings and pay dates expected in the next 30 days
A Social Security Number (SSN) is also required for a valid application. This is important because this will be used to check your information in various government agencies and programs, as well as verify your identity. You and each member of your household who wants to apply for Foodshare benefits must present a SSN to your local agency officer; otherwise, your application will not be accepted.
Another adult may apply for Foodshare food stamp benefits on your behalf. He/she would be referred to as an "authorized representative" and would need to fill out an additional form that can be found here by clicking here.
Your application will be processed no later than 30 days after your local agency has received your request. However, you will be able to get benefits quicker (within 7 days) if your household falls under one or more of the following conditions:
- You have $100 or less in your bank and you expect to receive less than $150 in income this month
- Your total monthly gross income plus available cash and bank accounts are less than your rent, mortgage, and utility costs for this month
- Your household includes a migrant or seasonal farm worker whose income has stopped
There will be a separate section in the application form that you can fill out to enable you to get benefits faster.
You will receive either an acceptance or denial letter in your mail once your application has been processed, which would contain details of the result of your application. After being accepted, you must complete a benefit renewal every six months as well as report any change in information related to your Foodshare enrollment (e.g. income changes, household status, etc.).