Michigan ranks third highest in the nation for the percent of households that receive federal food assistance, formerly known as food stamps. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau show nearly 17 percent of Michigan households have at least one person who receives assistance.
"In September, almost 2 million people here in Michigan were receiving food assistance. That's a really huge number when you consider that they population of the state is under 10 million," says Karen Holcomb-Merrill, with the Michigan League for Human Services. "That shows that people who are needing help are getting it. But on the other hand what it also tells us is that many people are still suffering in our state."
That number has actually declined since the beginning of the year.
"One of the reasons for that is that the Department of Human Services changed their rules and their polices with regards to college students receiving food assistance. And as a result of that, about 30,000 college students were dropped from food assistance earlier this year," she says.
Holcomb-Merrill says some college food pantries are now struggling to meet the need of low-income college students.
She also expects the number of people who receive food assistance will continue to drop, with new eligibility rules for food aid. The rules disqualify people with too many assets from getting assistance. Holcomb-Merrill says several states have scrapped similar rules because they prevent many people who need help from getting it.