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Food Bank President Says Drug Testing People On Benefits Would Be Harmful Policy

Head Of Second Harvest Says Food Assistance Helps Families, Benefits Economy

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An organization that distributes food for the hungry says pantries and meal sites will get busier under Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to drug test all recipients of FoodShare and other public benefits.

Second Harvest is a food bank run by Dan Stein that distributes food to pantries, meal sites and homeless shelters in 16 southwestern counties. Stein said drug testing people getting government money to buy food could reduce what’s spent at local grocery stores. He said that food assistance is not a drain on the economy — rather, it stimulates it.

“According to (U.S. Department of Agriculture), for every $5 that goes out in Foodshare benefits another $9 is generated in local economic activity,” said Stein.

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Stein also said that although its not widely known, drug testing is already in place to get food assistance. Those with a felony (drug) conviction in the last five years are currently not eligible to receive FoodShare unless they pass a drug test.

“We feel its a way they’re going to take people who are in need off the rolls. Many of them have families,” said Stein.

Walker has said his drug testing proposal will help people become employed. Stein, however, said the governor’s proposal reinforces negative stereotypes. He said the level of FoodShare fraud is less than 3 percent.

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