"ANN ARBOR, MI – An estimated 20,113 Washtenaw County residents were hungry at times in 2017, but unable to qualify for federal food assistance programs.
Now a push-and-pull of national and state policies threaten to either lower that number or raise it, officials say.
An estimated 3 million people nationwide – 150,000 in Michigan – would lose access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program under a proposed change by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under President Donald Trump.
The plan is said to close a loophole giving food benefits to those who don’t need it. It would undo automatic enrollment in the program and limit the consideration of gross incomes higher than 130% – $33,475 for a family of four – of the federal poverty line and resources greater than $2,250, or $3,500 for seniors or disabled individuals.
By contrast, on Thursday, Oct. 17, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a plan to change the asset limit to allow $15,000 in assets – such as money in bank accounts – and remove the consideration of vehicles.
However, that change would be nullified if the USDA proposal goes forward, said Bob Wheaton, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services public information officer. The comment period on the proposal was extended to Nov. 1, the same date Whitmer’s plan will be implemented.
Both Whitmer and the MDHHS have denounced the USDA's proposal. Wheaton said it stands to increase the number of families who go hungry in Washtenaw County without federal help. It'll also mean more paperwork for some families to get it, which could serve as a barrier."
Officials say it could get worse.
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