Evers’ DHS, DPI point fingers while kids wait for meals

While Gov. Tony Evers’ Department of Health Services and the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) pointed fingers at each other over the bureaucratic fiasco that left nearly 80,000 kids without federal meal assistance, untold numbers of children went without help.

As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, tens of thousands of students did not receive food assistance because the state failed to collect the addresses of students.

DPI told WISN-12 that more than 79,000 low-income Wisconsin students eligible for P-EBT benefits were not receiving them.

A call center set up to take questions reportedly was so overwhelmed and understaffed that it quickly shut down.

Weeks later, the agencies failed to connect with all of the eligible families. DPI says it’s working with DHS to collect and update the information, but it did not provide an update on numbers.

The state of Wisconsin received more than $200 million in federal food assistance funding, part of the billions of dollars in COVID relief going to support nutrition assistance for children and families. The idea is to make sure K-12 students enrolled in the free-or-reduced lunch programs continue to receive meals while locked out of schools and stuck in virtual education.

Except a lot of kids slipped through the cracks.

Failing Our Families