This page provides news to keep members up to date on what's happening related to FoodShare and P-EBT benefits.
FoodShare Members Living in Some Areas of Wisconsin Do Not Have to Meet the Work Requirement
Some adult FoodShare members without children in the home need to meet a work requirement to keep getting FoodShare benefits. The federal government recently approved a waiver allowing FoodShare members living in some areas of Wisconsin that have a high unemployment rate to not have to meet the work requirement.
As of October 1, 2023, you do not need to meet the FoodShare work requirement if you live in:
- The cities of Milwaukee and Racine.
- Menominee, Forest, Iron, and Adams counties.
- Tribal lands and reservations belonging to the:
- Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
- Forest County Potawatomi Community
- Ho-Chunk Nation
- Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
- Lac Du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
- Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin
- Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
- St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin
- Sokaogon Chippewa Community Mole Lake Band
- Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians
Through additional federal flexibilities, you do not have to meet the work requirement if you are living on tribal lands and the reservations of Oneida Nation and Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians.
This geographic waiver will last until at least September 30, 2024. Waivers require annual federal approval, so areas included may change in the future. The waiver does not change Wisconsin’s work requirement reinstatement plan or recent age or exemption changes related to the 2023 Fiscal Responsibility Act.
Even if you do not have to meet the FoodShare work requirement, you can still participate in the free and voluntary FoodShare Employment and Training (FSET) program.
FoodShare monthly amounts may change starting with October benefits
The federal government recently announced changes to the monthly income limits for FoodShare based on the increase in the cost of living. These limits affect the amount of benefits FoodShare members get each month.
These changes will take affect for October benefits and will remain in place through September 30, 2024. If you or your household will have a change in the amount of FoodShare benefits you get, you will get an About Your Benefits letter in September telling you your new monthly benefit amount.
- The minimum monthly FoodShare amount for one or two people remains at $23.
- The maximum amounts increased for households of all sizes.
Deductions for shelter and heating also increased. If your housing costs have increased, you can report that change to us as it could affect your benefits.
The FoodShare monthly income limit changes do not affect any health care benefits. The federal poverty levels used to determine eligibility for BadgerCare Plus and certain categories of Medicaid were updated on February 1, 2023, and are effective through January 31, 2024.
FoodShare work requirement updates related to the 2023 Fiscal Responsibility Act
Some adult FoodShare members without children in the home need to meet a work requirement to keep getting FoodShare benefits. The recently enacted 2023 Fiscal Responsibility Act changes the age range for members who need to meet the FoodShare work requirement. It also adds three new exemptions for members who are:
- Experiencing homelessness
- Former foster care youth
Currently, the age range for members who may need to meet the work requirement is 18-49. However, this will change starting on September 1, 2023:
- On September 1, 2023, the age range will change to 18-50.
- On October 1, 2023, the age range will change to 18-52.
- On October 1, 2024, the age range will change to 18-54.
If you need to meet the work requirement to get FoodShare benefits, you will get a letter (PDF) that will let you know.
You can also start using new exemptions to the work requirement as of August 14. You may now be exempt and not need to meet the FoodShare work requirement if:
- You are experiencing homelessness.
- You are between 18 and 24 years old and were in foster care, a subsidized guardianship, or court-ordered kinship care when you turned 18.
- You are a veteran, defined as a person who served in the United States Armed Forces (the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Coast Guard, National Guard, or Armed Forces Reserve) who has been discharged or released under any condition.
The full list of exemptions to the FoodShare work requirement can be found on the FoodShare Basic Work Rules and Work Requirement Information webpage. DHS is updating our letters to let you know about the age range changes and the new exemptions available to you. If you think you qualify for one or more of these new exemptions, you should tell your agency.
Policy changes related to 2023 Fiscal Responsibility Act are unrelated to Wisconsin’s FoodShare work requirement reinstatement plan, and do not result in any changes to it. More information about Wisconsin’s FoodShare work requirement reinstatement plan can be found in a recent partner email, in the FoodShare work requirement reinstatement section of this webpage, and in Operations Memo 23-20 (PDF).
Starting September 17, unused FoodShare and Pandemic EBT Program benefits may expire after 274 days
Starting September 17, unused FoodShare and Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) program benefits may expire if you have not used your EBT card to purchase food in the past 274 days (approximately nine months). Currently, you are allowed 365 days (or one year) of not using your benefits before benefits expire.
This policy change is based on federal rules for unused food benefits, and it applies to both FoodShare and P-EBT benefits. The process of removing food benefits that have gone unused from member accounts after a set amount of time is known as expungement.
You can keep your benefits by regularly using your EBT card (either your Wisconsin QUEST or Wisconsin P-EBT card) to buy food. There is no minimum amount that you must spend to keep your benefits from expiring. Benefits that have been on an EBT card for less than 274 days will not expire as part of this process.
EBT cards can be used to buy food at most grocery stores, convenience stores, and some farmer’s markets. You can still use the benefits on your card even if you are no longer eligible for the food program that provided them.
In July, if you are a person with benefits at risk of expiring in September because of the policy change, you will be sent a letter telling you this. It will include your current account balance, what to do to not lose your benefits, and options for assistance. If you are in a household that has a cell phone number on file with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), you will also get a text message alert.
DHS has also added information about why benefits expire and how to prevent it from happening to the letters sent to households after 60 days of EBT card inactivity and about two months before they are scheduled to lose benefits.
Starting on September 17, DHS is making the following changes:
- The letter sent after 60 days of EBT card inactivity will now be sent each time a household’s benefits reaches that point, not just once per lifetime.
- Letters that used to be sent at 300 days of EBT card inactivity will now be sent after 210 days. This change ensures that households will still be notified two months before their benefits are at risk of expiring.
- DHS will be posting expiring benefit alerts in ACCESS and on the MyACCESS app at these same time intervals of 60 and 210 days.
Additional information and help
- If you can’t find your EBT card or your card is damaged, you can call QUEST Card Service at 877-415-5164 and ask for a new one. QUEST Card Service can also help you get a new PIN, checking account balances, and reporting a lost or stolen card.
- Current or former FoodShare members that have questions about their program eligibility or benefits can check your benefits, see how you've used them, and learn about upcoming deposits by logging into ACCESS or by using the MyACCESS app.
- You can also check the amount on you card at any time by going to the ebtEDGE website.
- If you have questions about your P-EBT benefits, you should call the P-EBT Support Team at 833-431-2224.
- You can purchase groceries online at some stores using your EBT card. A list of online stores that accept EBT cards is located on the FoodShare News and Updates webpage.
- For ideas on how to use your food benefits, visit the DHS FoodShare: Spending Your Benefits webpage.
Temporary changes regarding FoodShare interviews
Typically, FoodShare rules require applicants and members to complete an interview with their agency as part of FoodShare applications and renewals. This interview is a conversation with an agency worker to discuss information provided during these processes.
Starting Monday, June 26, to streamline application and renewal processing in the post-COVID-19 period, we are temporarily waiving the interview for applicants or members who meet certain requirements. FoodShare applicants and members will not need to do an interview if they have:
- Submitted a complete paper or electronic FoodShare application or renewal that contains enough information for their agency to determine their eligibility
- Had their identify verified by their agency in alignment with existing FoodShare rules
A person can still choose to apply for benefits or complete their renewal over the phone by calling their agency. However, in these situations the FoodShare interview will be required. This is because all of the information needed for the agency to make an eligibility determination will need to be gathered during that phone call.
Note: Agencies may need to contact FoodShare applicants or members for more information, even though a full interview will not be required. If an agency cannot reach someone, a notice will be sent letting the person know if additional action is needed.
This is a temporary change allowed by federal program rules. When this temporary policy is slated to end, DHS will announce the timeline on this page and in communications to members and partner organizations who work with FoodShare members.
Some adult FoodShare members without children in their FoodShare household need to meet a work requirement to keep getting FoodShare benefits. Normally, if these members do not meet the work requirement, or do not have an exemption, they are limited to three months of benefits in a three-year period.
However, as of March 2020, federal rules allowed states to suspend the work requirement due to the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE). Since March 2020, FoodShare members in Wisconsin have not needed to meet this requirement to keep getting FoodShare benefits.
The federal suspension of the FoodShare work requirement ends after the first full month following the end of the PHE. The PHE ended on May 11, so the suspension will end June 30.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) recognizes that the FoodShare work requirement and its associated time limit have been suspended for a significant amount of time and reinstating the work requirement will present a difficult challenge for Wisconsin families. Therefore, starting July 1, 2023, the work requirement will be phased in over a nine-month period. If you need to meet the FoodShare work requirement, you will be notified in advance.
DHS will assist members who may need to meet the work requirement by getting you important information in a timely manner. Starting on June 1, 2023, some FoodShare members will start getting a new letter (PDF) that includes detailed information about the FoodShare basic work rules and the FoodShare work requirement.
When you need to meet the FoodShare work requirement, you will get another letter (PDF) that will let you know that. It will also include information on how to meet the requirement. More information about this letter is provided on the FoodShare Basic Work Rules and FoodShare Work Requirement Letter webpage.
- During the nine-month phase-in period, more information about the FoodShare work requirement, how to meet it, and employment resources will be shared on the DHS website and through various communications channels.
- Throughout the pandemic, DHS continued to offer the voluntary and free FoodShare Employment and Training (FSET) program to support FoodShare members. You will continue to have access to FSET after the work requirement returns.
- Job and training opportunities are available in Wisconsin through Wisconsin’s Job Centers. You can visit the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s website for more information.
- Education and training opportunities are available to you through Wisconsin’s Technical College System.
New FoodShare fraud prevention measures
Starting June 27, 2023, when you call Quest Card Service at 877-415-5164 to get information about your QUEST card and benefits, you will need to enter two things:
- The 16-digit card number
- The cardholder’s birthday
English: MMDDYYYY (month, day, year)
Spanish: DDMMYYYY (day, month, year)
Some temporary FoodShare eligibility policies ended June 12
During the COVID-19 emergency, there have been temporary benefit exemptions and policy suspensions in effect for some adult FoodShare members. As of June 12, 2023, FoodShare applicants can no longer use these exemptions. The temporary exemptions will continue for current members until their next renewal in July 2023 or later.
Some student eligibility exemptions ending
Under regular FoodShare rules, students who are enrolled in an institute of higher education at least half time are ineligible for FoodShare unless they meet an exemption. Since January 1, 2021, there have been two additional temporary eligibility exemptions for students 18 or older who:
- Are eligible to participate in a state or federally funded work-study program during the school year, regardless of whether they actually participate in work study.
- Have an expected family contribution of $0 during the school year (determined through submission of a Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
As of June 12 new applicants are no longer able to qualify for FoodShare benefits under these two temporary exemptions. You may still qualify if you meet one of the permanent student eligibility exemptions. The temporary rules will continue for current student members until their next renewal in July 2023 or later.
Drug testing requirement suspension ending
Regular FoodShare policy requires that a person convicted of a drug-related felony involving the possession, use, or distribution of a controlled substance in the last five years, pass a drug test to get benefits. If this applies to you, you must only pass a drug test once, typically at application or when the drug felony conviction is initially reported.
Since April 17, 2020, that requirement has been suspended. As of June 12, 2023, new FoodShare applicants convicted of a drug felony in the past five years are subject to the testing requirement. If you are a member who enrolled after April 16, 2020, and have a drug felony conviction in the last five years, you will need to submit a negative test result at your next renewal in July 2023 or later to keep getting benefits.
If you get FoodShare or have gotten Pandemic EBT benefits, some stores allow you to shop and pay for your groceries online. Currently, the following stores all accept QUEST or P-EBT cards for online orders on their websites:
- Capital Centre Market
- Lou Perrine’s Gas and Grocery
- Miller and Sons Supermarket
- Metro Market
- Pick 'n Save
- Ptacek's IGA
- Sam’s Club Scan and Go
- Schnuck’s Market
- Whole Foods
- Woodman’s Markets
Store websites may refer to your QUEST or P-EBT card as a “SNAP EBT” or “EBT” cards. Look for an EBT or SNAP card option when you go to pay and enter your card details. You will need to enter your card PIN each time you check out.
You can only use your QUEST or P-EBT card to buy food eligible for FoodShare. If you are buying other items at the same time, you need to use another form of payment to pay for those items.
Some stores may offer delivery. If you are charged a delivery fee, you will not be able to use your QUEST or P-EBT card to pay this fee. You will need to use another form of payment instead.
If you experience any issues when using your QUEST or P-EBT card to pay online, first make sure you have a balance on your card by going to the ebtEDGE website, using the ebtEDGE mobile app, or calling QUEST Card Service at 877-415-5164. If you have a balance and are still unable to complete your transaction, contact customer service at the store where you are trying to make the purchase for help.
If you have questions, contact the P-EBT Support Team.