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3.3.1 Food Unit/FoodShare Assistance Group/Relationships HUG (Households, Units, Groups) Relationship Definitions Relationship Rules Relationship Rules Exception

7 CFR 273.1(a) HUG (Households, Units, Groups)

To determine who is non-financially eligible for FoodShare, you must start with all household members.


H - Households

Households consist of all persons living in, or temporarily absent from, the same residence. It is important to enter all household members into CWW to ensure that the correct eligibility determination is made in CARES.


Note: Federal regulation cited in this handbook section, 7 CFR 273.1(a), and other portions of federal law also use the term “household.” Federal law and the Wisconsin FoodShare handbook do not apply the same definition to this term. The federal use of “household” is more comparable to the Wisconsin FoodShare term “food unit.”


U - Food Units

One or more persons who live in the same household and purchase and prepare food together for home consumption, or individuals who must be included in the same food unit because of relationship rules ( This group is tested for eligibility together. There are some exceptions for boarders, foster persons, and certain elderly and disabled individuals.


Examples of a food unit include:


Purchase and prepare:

People living together who:


Each person does not have to shop, provide money, prepare food, and eat together. Any of those activities is sufficient to include a member in purchasing and preparing food with the food unit.


G - FoodShare Assistance Groups

The FoodShare assistance group is formed by persons who are in the same food unit and pass all the individual non-financial criteria. The FoodShare assistance group receives the benefit. Relationship Definitions

Adult: A person who is 18 years old or older.


Child: A person's biological, step, or adopted son or daughter, regardless of age. If a child is adopted, the adoption severs the biological tie to the parent.


Minor: Someone less than 18 years old who is under the parental control of an adult food unit member.


Parent: A person's biological, step, or adoptive mother or father, regardless of the person's age. Parenthood does not have to be verified. If a child is adopted, the adoption severs the biological tie to the parent.


Parental Control: An adult providing parental control acts as a parent would toward the minor child. A minor child is considered under parental control if the child is financially or otherwise dependent on a member of the household. Foster care providers do not meet the parental control definition.


Sibling: A brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or other sibling related through adoption.


Spouse: A person recognized by Wisconsin law as another person's legal husband, wife, or same sex partner through marriage. Wisconsin does not recognize common law marriage.


Stepparent: The spouse of a person who is the parent of a child. A stepparent who is divorced from a parent is no longer considered a stepparent. Relationship Rules

7 CFR 273.1(b)(1)

The following individuals must be included in the same food unit, even if they do not purchase and prepare meals together:

  1. Spouses,

  2. Biological (unless no longer a parent because of adoption), adoptive, or stepparents and their children under the age of 22, and

  3. Adults and minor children under the age of 18 years over whom they are exercising parental control.


Example 1: Tim and Jane are unmarried and live together. They claim separate food unit status. Jane comes into the office and reports she had a baby. If Tim is the father, he is in the food unit with Jane and the baby.


If Tim is not the father, determine if he is participating in parental decisions that affect the baby. If yes, include Tim in Jane's and the baby's food unit since he is providing parental control. If no, Tim is a separate food unit.


Example 2: Sue divorced Bob, but they continue to live together. Since they state that they do not purchase and prepare meals together, they are allowed to be separate food units.


If Sue and Bob had children in common, relationship rules would require that they be in the same food unit, even if they were no longer married and claimed to purchase and prepare separately.


Under certain specific circumstances, individuals and their spouses who are elderly and disabled may be a separate food unit, even if they are living and eating with others. See 5.2.1 for rules related to FoodShare-E eligibility.


Note: The provision that allows EBD household members who cannot purchase and prepare their meals separately does not take precedence over the basic household composition provision which requires children under 22 years of age who reside with their EBD parent to be included in the same food unit.


Example 3: Stella, who is over 60 years old and disabled, allows her 19 year old daughter Gracie to move in with her. Although Stella and Gracie claim to purchase and prepare separately, they must be included in the same food unit because elderly persons may not be separated from their children who are under 22 years of age. Relationship Rules Exception

A minor, living with his or her own spouse or child and with an adult who is not the minor's parent, is not considered under the control of the adult and can be a separate food unit if they purchase and prepare food separately.


Example 4: A 17-year old is living with an aunt. The 17-year old has a one-year old son. If the 17-year old and her son purchase and prepare food separately from the aunt, they can be their own food unit.


This page last updated in Release Number: 16-02

Release Date: 12/19/2016

Effective Date: 12/19/2016