Local food pantry and meal service see higher demand after extra FoodShare benefits end
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Extra FoodShare benefits offered during the COVID-19 pandemic ended more than a month ago.
FoodShare is equivalent to food stamps or SNAP in Wisconsin. In February of 2023, more than 300,000 households received FoodShare benefits. As of March 1, extra benefits ended, providing FoodShare recipients with less money each month.
Before those benefits ended in Wisconsin, local food pantries and meal services began preparing and one month later, staff said they’ve noticed a greater need.
“We have seen an increase both at our direct programming and with our partners,” Suzanne Becker, Executive Director of Feed My People said. “I think that’s in part due to FoodShare, it’s also due to the continued high cost of everything, of food, of transportation and so forth. It’s just a very difficult time for families right now.”
TJ Atkins, Executive Director of The Community Table, has also seen higher demand.
“Our evening meals have doubled. So, typically we would see probably 30 on Tuesdays and Fridays and we’re seeing upper sixties into mid-seventies for those meals. So, we have seen an increase,” Atkins said.
Atkins said that need has been consistent for the last three weeks. But as the demand went up, so did community support.
“Our donations have gone up year after year after year since the pandemic and even month over month they’ve been going up. So, I don’t anticipate that we’re going to have a shortage of any kind of food. Plus, we just get general donations from community events on top of that,” Atkins said. “We’re here. We’re available to anyone, so please feel free to come down. Or, if you know anyone that’s in need, we’re certainly an open space.”
That sentiment was shared by Becker.
“We’re going to get the message out again to seniors, and families, make sure we’re working with the schools, do whatever it takes and we’ll go from there. Our community has always been very generous with supporting our mission,” Becker said. “I can’t say this enough that if people are in need if people need a little bit of extra help, or if you know somebody, please get the word out. Please have them call us or go to our webpage and we will make sure that they are connected to food.”
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