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Almost half a million Wisconsin children qualify for temporary grocery benefits

Eligible families get $1,248 per child in food assistance
Posted at 7:01 AM, Mar 29, 2021
and last updated 2022-03-01 13:28:22-05

If you think feeding a family of four is hard, try feeding a family of ten.

Twenty-four-year-old Marina Thao of Milwaukee is the oldest of eight children.

Many are still in grade school and every single one of them has been learning from home during the pandemic.

"With so many kids, you can only imagine how often we are at home and how often food is needed during this time," said Thao.

Thao's family enrolled in a federal program called Pandemic EBT or Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer program.

It's food assistance money that goes on a card used to buy groceries.

If your student did virtual learning and normally gets free or reduced lunch, you qualify.

"We have 438,289 children in the state of Wisconsin that are eligible for Pandemic EBT," said Sherrie Tussler, the Executive Director of Hunger Task Force, Milwaukee's local food bank.

Tussler explains to keep grocery bills down during the pandemic hasn't been easy for families since so many kids have been learning from home.

Through the program, families are eligible for a maximum amount of $1,248 per child to help buy groceries.

"If I'm a mom with two kids in my house and you give me $2400 to go grocery shopping I'm probably going to be good through the course of the summer, I won't have to worry about visiting a food pantry anymore," said Tussler.

Since the school year is already underway, eligible families will get benefits for several months of 2020.

"What about those parents who feel like, we really could have used this money months ago?" asked TMJ4 News' Kristin Byrne.

"They could have and they should have, but the program didn't get approved by the federal government and the state didn't write its plan until just now," Tussler said.

If you're already receiving FoodShare, you don't need to do anything. The benefit money will go onto your QUEST card.

For others, you need to apply for Pandemic-EBT online starting April 12 and benefits will go onto a white debit card mailed to you.

For more information about the program, visit

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Tracking grocery prices

Starting on Feb. 25, 2022, the TMJ4 I-Team is visiting several Milwaukee-area stores to track the change in prices of a select basket of goods. You can see our shopping list below. On the left, you can see several graphics tracking the changing prices at each store. Some items are subject to sales on a week by week basis.