FoodShare Outreach

FoodShare OutreachWould you walk past a $20 bill lying on the ground? Worse yet, would you advise your clients to do so?

Being eligible for FoodShare Wisconsin but not taking advantage of it is a lot like walking past $20 or more month after month after month. Many individuals and families are struggling to make ends meet these days. They’re making choices every month between buying food and paying for their housing, medications, utilities, child care and other bills. You’re already helping some who come to your site, but do you know that many are eligible to receive FoodShare which allows them to go to the grocery store and purchase items of their own choice, food that they may not be able to access otherwise?

And there’s something else great about receiving FoodShare: everyone in your community wins. Your clients can put more healthy, nutritious food of their own choice on the table while relieving stress on your site and on the people who are worrying whether they have enough to eat. Even the local economy where your FoodShare dollars are spent benefits! The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that for every $5 spent in FoodShare benefits, $9 circulates through local businesses and to our farmers. These days, no community can afford to turn away resources.

Before assuming someone isn’t eligible for FoodShare benefits, do you know… 

  • FoodShare is not welfare. It’s a boon to the American economy.
  • Everyone who applies for FoodShare and meets all program rules will get benefits.
  • You aren’t taking away from anyone else when you receive FoodShare.
  • A person may be able to get FoodShare benefits even if they get Social Security, SSI or other insurance payments.
  • No one needs to go to a state or county office to get FoodShare benefits – their application can be done online and their interview can be by phone.
  • FoodShare information is kept private.
  • If benefits aren’t spent in the month they’re issued, they don’t go away. A person can save up (for up to 1 year) to make sure they’ll still have enough good food even when a large bill hits.
  • FoodShare benefits come on a plastic card that looks like a credit or debit card.

You can play a critical role making sure your clients receive benefits they need and are eligible for – and Second Harvest’s FoodShare Outreach team can help you!


How We Help
Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin partners with the State of Wisconsin, Department of Health Services with the goal of successfully assisting a significant number of potentially eligible families and individuals gain FoodShare benefits.


Direct Application Assistance
Our team of fully-trained mobile FoodShare Outreach Specialists offer assistance at a variety of convenient community locations. They're equipped with laptop computers with wireless internet connectivity and printers/copiers, and can provide bi-lingual accommodation to assist persons with limited English proficiency. They can offer these services at your site or at another easily-accessible location in your community:  

  • Inform your clients that this assistance exists and how to apply
  • Screen potentially eligible people
  • Provide one-on-one application assistance utilizing the ACCESS online application and paper applications when online connectivity is not available
  • Make copies of verification documentation and fax/deliver to the processing FoodShare office
  • Act as liaison for future client follow up and communication
  • Follow-up with the processing office on behalf of clients as needed or requested.


To schedule a Second Harvest FoodShare Outreach Specialist to come to your site, contact Michelle Kramer, FoodShare Outreach Manager, at 608-216-7238 or


FoodShare Helpline: 877-FOOD-635 (877-366-3635)
Callers to Second Harvest’s FoodShare Helpline speak to trained volunteers trained who provide friendly assistance with the following services:

  • Screening for FoodShare benefits using the “Am I Eligible?” section of the ACCESS tool
  • Referral to sites and/or schedule appointments for clients to receive personalized FoodShare application assistance Second Harvest’s Outreach Specialists
  • Answers to general FoodShare program questions, such as locations where FoodShare benefits can be used and which foods are eligible for benefits

Results of the eligibility screening are mailed to callers with personalized letters and the list of documents to bring when receiving in-person application assistance. Those with scheduled appointments also receive reminder phone calls 24 hours in advance.


In Wisconsin, it is estimated that only 67 percent of eligible individuals take advantage of FoodShare benefits. Many of those who can use a little help with groceries have paid into the system for years. Now is the time to make sure that safety net work is working for our neighbors facing hunger. Don’t let those coming to you for help miss out on this benefit that puts food on the table and brings back some of our tax dollars to help your community.


Become A Host Site
Are you ready to become a FoodShare Outreach host site? There are tips below but most importantly, we're here to help. Contact Michelle Kramer, FoodShare Outreach Manager, at 608-216-7238 or to get started today!


At your Program Site

  • Host a Second Harvest FoodShare Outreach Specialist who can help your clients complete a FoodShare application.
  • Put up FoodShare Helpline and ACCESS posters and flyers in your lobby and waiting area.
  • Display information about the nutritional and health benefits of the FoodShare program in your lobby and waiting area
  • Insert information about FoodShare and the FoodShare Helpline in grocery bags and informational packets. (We’re glad to supply you with whatever you need!)
  • Create a private space with internet connection where clients can apply for FoodShare using the ACCESS website
  • Recruit volunteers to assist clients apply for FoodShare using the ACCESS website


Among your Fellow Staff and Volunteers

  • Share information about the FoodShare program, the ACCESS website and the FoodShare Helpline
  • Encourage hosting an ACCESS website training and/or attend training at another site
  • Include information about the nutritional and health benefits of the FoodShare program and the Helpline in newsletters and other outreach material


In Your Community

  • Provide information about the FoodShare program and the FoodShare Helpline at community events
  • Ask your local grocer to help us promote FoodShare outreach in the store
  • Talk to your local library about the ACCESS website and whether staff may be able to provide assistance to applicants


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