Food Assistance ProgramThe Food Assistance Program is a joint initiative between the U.S Department of Agriculture and the State of Michigan's Department of Human Services that aims to provide food purchasing power to low-income individuals and families. . While the U.S Department of Agriculture funds 100 percent of this aid program, Michigan Department of Human Services determines eligibility for the aid itself.
Generally, eligibility for food assistance depends on the financial situation of the household group. All persons who live together- purchasing and preparing food collectively-are considered to be members of the same food assistance group.In order to qualify for this benefit program, you must be a resident of the state of Michigan and you must have an annual household income of less than the following:
$14,079 if one person lives in the household
$18,941 if two people live in the household
$23,803 if three people live in the household
$28,665 if four people live in the household
$33,527 if five people live in the household
$38,389 if six people live in the household
$43,251 if seven people live in the household
$48,113 if eight people live in the household
For larger households, add $4,862 for each additional person in the home. Additionally, applicants must provide Proof of person identification and residence in the county, such as a driver's license, Proof of gross income for all household members from all sources, Proof of house payments, insurance, and taxes or rent payments, Proof of utility (gas, electric, wood, fuel oil, telephone, etc.) expenses, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) papers for each household member (if applicable), Social Security numbers for all household members applying for benefits, Proof of medical expenses for anyone in the household 60 years of age or older, or receiving Social Security Disability or supplemental Security Income benefits, or who is a disabled veteran or a disabled surviving spouse or child of a veteran and Work registration. Applicants must also participate in a live interview.
Food Assistance Program benefits are administered into an electronic food account. Each customer is provided a Michigan Bridge Card which can access food assistance funding electronically via the debit system. According to the State of Michigan DHS website:
"Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) is the way Michigan distributes Food Assistance benefits. A Michigan Bridge Card, including a personal identification number (PIN), allows access to a recipient's account.The Bridge Card can be used at USDA-certified retailers with point-of-sale devices. Only the recipient and their authorized representative can access the EBT account."
Food Assistance funding may be used for the following:
- Any food or food product intended for human consumption except alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and foods prepared for immediate consumption.
- Seeds and plants to grow food for personal consumption.
- Meals prepared by organizations approved by FNS as specified below.
- Meals prepared and served to eligible residents by a shelter for battered women and children, certain adult foster care (AFC) homes and substance abuse treatment centers.
Michigan Bridge Card EBT is recognized and accepted at many retail food vendors including recognized grocery stores, house-to-house grocery vendors, and nonprofit food purchasing ventures. EBT is also accepted at homeless shelters, group homes, various community dining services, and at restaurants which provide low cost meals to senior citizens or the homeless. Food Assistance Program funding cannot be used to purchase any non food items including:
(2) pet food
(4) paper products
(5) alcoholic beverages
(6) hot foods ready to eat
(7) lunch counter items or foods to be eaten in the store
(8) vitamins or medicines.
Statistically, Nearly 2-million, almost 20% of Michigan's population, receives money for food through government assistance. More than $2-billion was distributed to Michigan residents in food assistance in 2009. In September 2010, upwards of $250-million in food assistance went to families in the state. And every month, Michigan adds around 30,000 additional recipients. Michigan's Department of Human Services states assistance programs are not a waste of money, but rather good for farmers, distributors, grocery stores, and jobs.
"Just this one program could put an estimated $16-million in additional direct food dollars into Michigan communities each month and nearly $200-million into communities each year."
According to The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) every $5 in food benefits generates about $9.20 in economic activity in communities.