Maine Increases Work Requirements for FoodShare, Enrollments Drop

Daily Signal article contends that the federal government should add work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents who participate in FoodShare

MacIver News Service | February 9, 2016

[Washington, D.C…] After Maine implemented work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents participating in the FoodShare program, enrollment of those individuals dropped 80 percent, a recent article reports.

The Daily Signal writes that after three months of Maine’s work policy, the caseload of able-bodied adults without dependents fell from 13,332 in Dec. 2014 to 2,678 in March 2015. The report goes on to argue that the federal government should implement such work requirements, since it funds over 90 percent of state-run FoodShare programs.

Check out the Daily Signal article here.

Maine’s approach is not unique to the northeastern state. As the MacIver News Service reported, Wisconsin instated a similar statewide law this past year after a pilot program in Racine, Kenosha, and Walworth counties found similar results.

The pilot program began in the three Wisconsin counties on July 1, 2014, and required that able-bodied childless adults applying for FoodShare benefits must work at least 80 hours a month, take FoodSharePilotProgram.pngpart in an approved work program at least 80 hours of month, or a combination of the two for a total of at least 80 hours a month. Those who forego the work and job training requirements may only receive FoodShare benefits for three months over the next three years.

As of November 2014, 13 percent, or 709 of approximately 5,400 individuals in the three counties lost FoodShare eligibility because they failed to fulfill the new requirements.

Wisconsin’s statewide work requirements took effect in April 2015. After three months of the law’s implementation, more than 40,000 individuals complied with the requirements. Almost 15,000 individuals dropped off the public assistance program after failing to comply with the work requirements. Upwards of 4,500 individuals found work with the help of the FoodShare Employment Training (FSET) program, according to Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services.

The MacIver Institute has covered this issue throughout its development. After the executive director of Milwaukee’s Hunger Task Force called compared requirements to slavery, MNS’ Ola Lisowski published a response in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.