DHS: More Wisconsin residents able to qualify for emergency food pantry program

Food Generic

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced Monday that more people can qualify to get help with receiving food through The Emergency Food Assistance Program.

According to the news release, households with incomes below 300% of the federal poverty level can receive a monthly share of food, including meat, vegetables, fruit and other options from a TEFAP food pantry. The income threshold for a household of one is $38,280, compared to the previous threshold of 185%, or $23,606.

The income threshold increases with larger households. Homes that encounter job losses can become eligible if their income drops below certain levels in any given week, the release said.

The release said the state’s TEFAP Advisory Council proposed the new income threshold, which DHS and the United States Department of Agriculture later approved. The new statewide policy went into effect June 1. With some pantries only open once or twice a month, the changes will affect pantries the first day they open in June.

“Good nutrition is foundational, and we want to help ensure families in need of assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic have access,” said DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “By increasing the income limit for TEFAP, more Wisconsinites can receive or supplement their food supplies without risk of losing the benefits they receive from other programs.”

Signing up for the program at a pantry is confidential, with proof of address and identification being the only requirements to enroll. All 72 counties in the state have at least one TEFAP food pantry. To find the address, service hours and phone number of a participating pantry closest to you, households can call the statewide helpline at 211.

Pantry volunteers are making no-contact food distributions during the pandemic, with a number of TEFAP applicants remaining in their cars for service.

Anyone who already participates in the FoodShare, School Nutrition, WIC and Senior Meals programs can also enroll in TEFAP without impacting the other programs.