WisconsinWeekly: Work for food, Latinos join Islam, dairy farmers told to ‘sell out’

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FoodShare work requirements ramp up; Latinos convert to Islam; small dairy farmers squeezed out; teachers’ health insurance costs rise

Of note: This week we highlight our most recent story about the ramping up of the state’s work and training requirement for FoodShare recipients. Republicans say adding parents of school-age children and increasing the hours from 20 to 30 a week next year will get more people “off the sidelines” and into the workforce.

We visited Madison’s Just Bakery, an intensive, 16-week training program in commercial baking, where the work requirement has helped recipients such as former offender Tyrees Scott get a job and put his life back on track. But for every person like Scott, we found many more FoodShare recipients lost benefits for failing to meet the requirements. And the average recipient who got a job still did not earn enough or work enough hours to get off FoodShare.

WisconsinWeekly is produced by Dee and Andy Hall, a couple who founded the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Andy is the executive director and Dee is the managing editor.

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Wisconsin to force parents to work for FoodShare, despite doubts about effectiveness

Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism — July 1, 2018

In our latest report, the Center examines Wisconsin’s FoodShare program as it prepares to expand the work mandate to parents of school-age children and increase the requirement to 30 hours a week. The expansion is expected to double the cost of the program. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau, however, found it is difficult to figure out how well the program is working because Gov. Scott Walker vetoed a measure passed by the Legislature in the 2017-19 budget that would have required the state to evaluate the FoodShare program.

In Chicago and elsewhere, Latinos converting to Islam

Chicago Sun-Times — June 30, 2018

From former WCIJ intern Alexandra Arriaga, a Chicago Sun-Times story reports a “small but growing” group of converts — Latino Muslims.There are no precise figures on how many Latino Muslims live in the Chicago area, where the population is about 30 percent Latino. But Juan Galvan, co-author of a national study last year of Latino Muslims, puts the number at about 35,000.

Best advice to U.S. dairy farmers? ‘Sell out as fast as you can’

NBC News — June 30, 2019

Small dairy farmers are getting squeezed out by corporate agriculture. There were nearly 650,000 dairy farms in the United States in 1970, but just 40,219 remained at the end of 2017. Cows are producing more milk than ever, but they are consolidated on bigger, more efficient farms. “That is not what America is about,” one struggling farmer, Gary Rock, told NBC News.

New state data: Post Act-10, teachers’ health care costs soared

Wisconsin State Journal — July 3, 2018

Newly released data show Wisconsin school districts ratcheted up health care costs on teachers and other employees after the state’s Act 10 collective bargaining changes, with the average district now requiring teachers to pay about 12 percent of their health insurance premiums. This is the first time the state has released a comprehensive look at teacher health care costs in all 422 of the state’s public school districts after the 2011 enactment of Act 10.

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