Food for thought

Whitmer increases student eligibility for food assistance in MI

Food+for+thought

Ben Bolstrum, Managing Editor

As we continue to navigate the pandemic, increasingly more people are being vaccinated every day. This comes as a great benefit for many, but some people still struggle with food insecurity; unable to provide for themselves or their family due to financial issues that arose as a result of COVID-19. As a result, starting April 1, the state of Michigan will be enabling services for students that will allow students easier access to food.

“College students should not have to choose between furthering their education and putting food on the table – especially during a pandemic,” explains Gov. Whitmer in a press release. “I am pleased that we are able to work with the Biden administration to help college students in Michigan who are working hard to pursue their dreams.”

The crux of this plan is increased eligibility into the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for college students, the goal is to ease the strain on the wallets of families who cannot pay for college tuition. Eligibility into work-study programs may also qualify students to access the program. 

Additionally, students who have not had assistance from family with college costs through their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can expect access into this program as long as they attend college with at least halftime status. With this in mind, the expansion of this program could lead to 200,000 more students with food on their plate.

“Many Michigan college students lost their jobs due to no fault of their own as a result of the pandemic,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel in the same press release. “Expanding access to food and making it easier for our residents who are in need to apply for help are priorities of the department. Even before the pandemic, many students struggled to afford enough food while paying for college. These new changes will help students complete their education and reduce their food insecurity.”

Students who gain access to this program will be granted Bridge Cards which may be used to purchase food at select retailers and can click here to check the list of participating retailers. This extended period of eligibility can be taken advantage of for 30 days after the expiration of the federal public health emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic, so those interested should act fast.

To apply for benefits, please visit: newmibridges.michigan.gov/s/isd-landing-page?language=en_US

Any questions about the program may be sent to policy-empl[email protected].

Photo credit: Markus Spiske