ONEIDA — The federal government is ending extra FoodShare benefits for Wisconsin households next month.
Starting in March, families relying on the additional benefits of the program can expect their wallets to feel lighter.
"700,000 Wisconsinites are going to feel that impact," Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin Director of Communications Lisa Endl said. "The average person will lose $221 a month that they've been using to supplement their needs. Trips to the grocery store, contributing to their local economy...there's really going to be a great impact."
Currently, households enrolled in the FoodShare program have been receiving about 34% more relief for their household size than they could prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Marlon Skenandore is the manager of the Oneida Emergency Food Pantry and said they're already back to pre-pandemic levels, and he expects this to only go up.
"We have a whole new number of individuals relying on pantries to get by, and that's a little scary," Skenandore said.
In the last two weeks, he said they've already served more than 250 families, compared to 220 for the entire month of January 2022. Additionally, he said they actually broke some records this past holiday season.
"A lot of them are working class," Skenandore said. "Maybe they still have two household incomes, and they're still having troubles making ends meet."
He said the expected influx of people presents the challenge across local food pantries of having enough food to serve everyone.
Endl said Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin has been preparing for this for a while and is ready to help local food pantries.
"That's just making sure on our end we're sourcing the right amount of food, and we're able to meet those gaps at the pantry level," Endl said.
As for families, Skenandore says start planning.
"Don't wait until those benefits are gone," Skenandore said. "Now is the time to really start planning what those possibilities are... [and] resources you need."
Anyone who is impacted by the change and looking to find help or resources can reach out to Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin.