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Food Stamp Rolls Decline, But Hunger Persists in MI

PHOTO: The number of Michiganders receiving help from the federal government to complete their grocery shopping has dropped by 80,000 over the past year, which officials say could be a sign the economy is picking up. Photo courtesy of calgrin/morguefile.com
PHOTO: The number of Michiganders receiving help from the federal government to complete their grocery shopping has dropped by 80,000 over the past year, which officials say could be a sign the economy is picking up. Photo courtesy of calgrin/morguefile.com
May 22, 2014

LANSING, Mich. – It could be another sign the state's economy is slowly improving – not as many Michiganders are relying on the government to put food on the table.

Kevin Concannon, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services, says the number of Michiganders receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP benefits, decreased by 80,000 over the past year, one of the biggest drops in the nation.

"It's a positive sign, it's one we need a lot more of,” he says. “I'm always careful to add that we're seeing green growth here and there. It's not universal yet, by any means. "

Concannon stresses that while the decrease is a good thing, SNAP remains a critical anti-hunger program.

Nationwide, there are now 46.2 million Americans receiving SNAP benefits, down from 47.7 million last year.

SNAP enrollment ballooned after the financial crisis and continued to rise for several years.

Concannon says the recent decline supports the idea that food assistance is not a crutch people rely on for life, but rather a bridge to get them through tough times.

"It has been a godsend for many of these people,” he says. “These data of the reductions nationally as well as in states like Michigan, we're seeing hopeful signs."

While enrollment in SNAP may be down in Michigan, Concannon acknowledges that food insecurity remains a serious problem.

Social service agencies across the state say cuts to SNAP benefits, which took effect late last year, have many more families turning to food banks and other community resources in an effort to make ends meet.


Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI