Forced Diet for Michigan's Neediest Starts Nov. 1

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Michigan’s Department of Human services announced today that beginning Friday, Nov. 1, nearly 1.8 million state residents who receive government food assistance will have to make due with even less.

The reduction in financial assistance, which affects all 50 states, are due to provisions contained in a 2009 federal stimulus bill that are scheduled to conclude on Oct. 31, 2013.

According to officials at DHS, the average family of four on food stamps will receive $36 less a month, effective this Friday. However, since the cash assistance is added to debit cards once a month, officials say some recipients will notice the decline earlier in November and others later in the month.

Of course, this news is just the latest pall to be cast over the state’s most vulnerable residents. While the sunset of this federal stimulus has been known for some time, it comes on the heels of a major assault on the poor, waged by the conservative majority — both in Lansing and in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Last September, the House passed a bill to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known as Food Assistance in Michigan, by almost $40 billion over the next 10 years, which is in sharp contrast to the $4 billion in cuts over the same period contained in the U.S. Senate’s bipartisan Farm Bill.

The cuts in the House SNAP bill will strike at millions of the most vulnerable Americans, compounding the estimated $5 billion in cuts to food assistance when the Recovery Act expansions sunset on Nov. 1.

For perspective, the latest data  by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that Michigan has the 15th-highest poverty rate in the nation and the fourth-highest unemployment rate.

DHS says recipients can call 888-689-8914 to see exactly how much their assistance is declining, but they should wait until after their November benefits are loaded onto their cards.

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