Barriers to Enrolling in FoodShare

FoodShare is an important part of our community safety net. It helps participants stretch their budgets and keep healthy food on the table during tough times. Unfortunately, about 1 in 6 people who are eligible for FoodShare don’t enroll.  

There are many reasons why people who are eligible do not enroll in FoodShare. The most common reason is because they do not realize they are eligible. Some may not know about FoodShare. Others know about the program but assume that they make too much money or do not meet other eligibility guidelines.

Even once people realize they are eligible, some do not apply because they are confused about the application process. They may face language or literacy barriers. Some are not comfortable with technology and find it difficult to apply online. Households that have varying work hours or eligible and non-eligible members are often unsure of how to record their income and expenses.

Stigma also continues to be a big barrier to FoodShare enrollment. There are a lot of misconceptions about FoodShare, and people are sometimes worried that neighbors will think they are lazy or taking advantage of the system. Others are embarrassed about needing help.

Outreach partnerships between the FoodShare Outreach team and local organizations help to break down these barriers. Potential participants learn about the program and eligibility requirements through flyers and posters in their communities or conversations with community partners. These conversations can also reduce stigma and embarrassment about enrolling in the program. Assistance offered by the FoodShare Outreach program makes the application process easy to understand and navigate.

Reaching the people in our communities who are eligible but don’t participate in FoodShare requires a community effort. To learn more about becoming a FoodShare Outreach partner, please contact Stephanie at