Help for hungry at risk

Contact Judy Putnam at (517) 487-5436 or jputnam@milhs.org

Putting food on Michigan tables harder after Nov. 1
More cuts threaten nation’s most effective anti-hunger program

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan children, veterans, seniors and low-wage workers are among the 1.8 million who will have less food on the table starting Nov. 1. Cuts to food assistance will total $183 million over the next year in Michigan as a modest increase in benefits – passed to help America recover from the Great Recession and ease economic hardship – expires.

Cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called food stamps, (and known as the Food Assistance Program in Michigan) come as Congress considers even deeper, more harmful cuts that would threaten Michigan’s fragile economic recovery and hurt those unable to find enough work to feed their families.

The Nov. 1 change will be a loss of about $36 a month for a family of four, or about a dime per meal. That adds up to a big local impact — $10 million loss in Kent County in food aid over the next year, nearly $13 million in Macomb County and $600,000 in the small county of Roscommon. (See full county list.)

“This small increase was a big help to keep Michigan families from going hungry during difficult times. Unfortunately, the need is still there. Our state continues to struggle with many people out of work, and poverty remains much higher than before the recession,’’ said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president & CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy.

A recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that nearly one in every seven Michigan households, or more than a half-million households, face hunger, with serious problems affording adequate, nutritious food at some point during the year.

There were 13.4 percent of Michigan households that were food insecure in 2010-2012, about the same as 2007-2009. Food insecurity, however, has jumped dramatically from 9.2 percent of Michigan households in 2000-2002.

The U.S. House has passed a Farm Bill that cuts nearly $40 billion in SNAP funding over the next decade with cuts nine times deeper than the bipartisan version passed by the U.S. Senate. It would immediately cut 200,000 very low-income women and men in Michigan from food assistance at a time when many are willing to work but unable to find jobs. Families with children are also at risk if they are not able to work or find training programs.

“Congress needs to know that this vital program puts nutritious food on the tables of children, veterans, seniors and others in our state, and we need to make sure that food is available when people need it most,’’ Jacobs said.

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The Michigan League for Public Policy is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and advocacy organization dedicated to economic opportunity for all. It convenes the Prosperity Coalition.