Changes to theMichigan Bridge Card: Is it Worth the Sacriﬁce?--------------------------------------- Michael Bennett Kaleigh Lawrence Brian Veenstra Prof. Jenn DeHaan PA 307 - 01
FOOD ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (FAP) “The Food Assistance Program (FAP) supplements the food purchasing power of low‐income individuals and families” (Food Assistance Program Overview, 2011). “The U.S. Department of Agriculture funds 100 percent of this program” (Food Assistance Program Overview, 2011). The state and federal governments share administraGve costs. (Food Assistance Program Overview, 2011). DHS determines eligibility for FAP.
Electronic Beneﬁt Transfer Electronic Beneﬁt Transfer (EBT) is an electronic system that allows a recipient to authorize transfer of their government beneﬁts from a Federal account to a retailer account to pay for products received ( SNAP, 2009). “EBT is used in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam” ( SNAP, 2009). “State food stamp agencies work with contractors to procure their own EBT systems for delivery of Food Stamp and other state‐administered beneﬁt programs” ( SNAP, 2009).
EBT continued.. “Once eligibility and level of beneﬁts have been determined, an account is established in the parGcipants name, and food stamp beneﬁts are deposited electronically in the account each month” (SNAP,2009). “A plasGc card, similar to a bank card, is issued” (SNAP,2009). “ A personal idenGﬁcaGon number (PIN) is assigned or chosen by the recipient to give access to the account” (SNAP,2009).
Michigan’s Food Assistance Program: Food Assistance Beneﬁts are issued into a food account using electronic technology and a debit card known as the Michigan Bridge Card oZen called the “Bridge Card”. Assistance administered by Department of Human Services in Michigan.
EligibilityLow or No IncomeBased on Household Income and number of people in FAP group.Countable Income: Wages Rental Income Child Support Social Security and Veteran Beneﬁts
Work RequirementsTo Receive FAP Beneﬁts: Adults who are already working may not: Voluntarily quit a job of 30 hours or more per week. Voluntarily reduce hours of employment below 30 hours per week. Be ﬁred from a job for misconduct or absenteeism. Adults who are not working or are working less than 30 hours per week must: Accept a bona‐ﬁde oﬀer of employment . ParGcipate in employment‐related acGviGes that are required of an individual in order to receive unemployment compensaGon. (DHS)
Work Requirements Continued…Must also work at least 80 hours a month (DHS). “Unless deferred, household members age 16 through 59 must agree to parGcipate in employment‐related acGviGes if referred. InformaGon regarding work requirements will be given at applicaGon and review” (Food Assistance Beneﬁts in Michigan, 2011, p.2).
Food AssistanceTotal amount of Food Assistance based on deducGons of 20% of total income and other allowable expenses. Allowable expenses include: Medical expenses over $35 a month not covered by a 3rd party Some housing and uGlity costs Some Childcare costs Court‐ordered Child support paid to non‐ household member. (DHS)
What Can and Cannot BeCan: Purchased?1.) Any non‐taxed food or food product.2.) Seeds and plants for use in a home garden. Cannot: You cannot buy nonfood items such as:1.) soap 2.) pet food3.) tobacco 4.) paper products, 5.) alcoholic beverages 6.) HOT foods7.) Ready to Eat foods 8.) vitamins or medicines.( Food Assistance Beneﬁts in Michigan, 2011, p. 2).
Who Can Receive Beneﬁts? “Any “household” that meets the income and other basic eligibility rules shown below can get Food Assistance beneﬁts” (Food Assistance Beneﬁts in Michigan, 2011, p.2). A household may be one person or a group of people who live together and customarily buy and prepare their food together” ( Food Assistance Beneﬁts in Michigan, 2011, p.2). A person who is a boarder or lives in an insGtuGon (with some excepGons) cannot get Food Assistance beneﬁts ( Food Assistance Beneﬁts in Michigan, 2011, p.2).
Work Requirements “Unless deferred, household members age 16 through 59 must agree to parGcipate in employment‐related acGviGes if referred. InformaGon regarding work requirements will be given at applicaGon and review” (Food Assistance Beneﬁts in Michigan, 2011, p.2).
How To Apply: Anyone has the right to apply. The local Department of Human Services (DHS) oﬃce gives or mails applicaGons in the date requested. Requests can be made: ‐ in person ‐ by phone ‐ by mail ‐ by someone else who can do this for the household The applicaGon must be turned into local DHS oﬃce Applicants are given assistance upon request The applicaGon is taken on the day the day that it is turned in, even if the case worker is not present. You can also apply online at hkp://www.michigan.gov/mibridges Once in the program consumers can also uGlize this website to see their balance, their worker’s contact informaGon and can reapply when necessary. ( Food Assistance Beneﬁts in Michigan, 2011, p.2).
How To Apply Continued.. Each applicant must be interviewed Interview is often over the phone unless an in- person interview is requested or consumer applying for cash beneﬁts also. Eligible households receive their beneﬁts by the 30th day after turning in the ﬁling form and/or the application. Those with little or no money may be able to get Food Assistance beneﬁts within seven days.(Food Assistance Beneﬁts in Michigan, 2011, p.2).
Issue: The State of Michigan is changing food assistancerequirements to be in sync with the Federal guidelines.
New Policy“(They) must be caring for children, physically or mentally unﬁt for employment, parGcipaGng in an on‐the‐job training program, or working 20 hours a week,” said ChrisGna Fecher, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS). “Akending college by itself is not an approved excepGon, and our department will enforce that policy starGng in April” (Witbeck, 2011).
Why Is This An Issue? Many college students.. FEEL that they need the assistance to make ends meet. WORRY that their assistance will be cut. DO NOT GET get assistance from parents or guardians and rely on public assistance. THINK they deserve the assistance because they are working towards being a productive member of society.
Positive Perspectives... “Such an excepGon is not only unnecessary, but it goes against the very ﬁber of why the program was created — to help low‐income people. Under the new policy, if students meet the income and work requirements, they are eligible just like everyone else” (Inks, 2011). “(The DHS) is ready to extend a helping hand to any ciGzen who is truly in need, including college students who … are taking the right steps toward becoming self‐ suﬃcient,” (Witbeck, 2011).
Positive Perspectives“This is federal money … and we’re blowing it on welfare. We need to make sure that it is going to those who really need it,” he said. “If we don’t get a handle on these enGtlements, the future generaGons will have to foot a lot of crazy bills for things we didn’t address”‐ Bob Genetski (legislator) (Witbeck, 2011). “A lot of taxpayers don’t mind helping people who are truly in need but they were infuriated to see that their tax dollars were going to a situaGon that wasn’t needy,” he said. “A lot of people who are really mad about it are those who worked part‐Gme or full‐Gme jobs to get through college. They feel as if the current generaGon doesn’t understand that work ethic”(Witbeck, 2011).
Negative Perspectives..“No numbers for how much money themove will save are available” - Christina Fecher;DHS spokesperson“I understand some students might abusethe program, but students by and largecannot afford food despite many stateofficials’ assertions that students shouldobtain assistance from family. My parentshelp me out with some stuff, but they can’tafford to help me out with everything...Money you get from working in the summeronly lasts for so long.” -Josh Broecker AdvertisingSenior at MSU
Negative Perspectives:“The decision should have lashed out morebroadly at abuse by people other than collegestudents.” -State Rep. Mark Meadows D-East Lansing“I would use [a food pantry] if it were a last resort,but I think it’s for people who really really needit,” said Hildbrandt-Cooper, who said she feelscaught in the middle ground between being “toopoor to afford groceries but not poor enough fora food pantry.” - Grand Valley Lanthorn
Positive Impacts SAVES money PotenGally DECREASES fraud ALLOWS Food Assistance Program to serve those that are truly in need IMPROVES public perception of foodassistance programs and other welfare spending.
Negative ImpactsStudents SUFFER from starvation andmalnutrition.Policy ENCOURAGES Pregnancies.Students spend less time studying and more timeWORRYING about the next meal.LOSS of revenues for grocery stores.
Statistics“The federally funded Food Assistance Programserves almost 1.9 million Michigan residents,including 805,000 children” (Peter, 2011)DHS estimates that up to 20,000 of those usersare students qualiﬁed solely for the purpose ofbeing a college student.2010 Census showed the Michigan Population at9,883,640.20% of all Michigan Residents receive foodassistance of which 1% are students in which thispolicy impacts.
RecommendationsMaking the state Bridge Card program uniformwith federal Food Assistance guidelines is theRIGHT DECISION. Does not mean students are ineligible for FAP beneﬁts. There are other forms of food assistance. Decreases fraud and makes the system serve only those who have true need.
References – Food Assistance Beneﬁts in Michigan (2011 ). In State of Michigan Department of Human Services Retrieved April 19, 2011, from hkp://www.michigan.gov/documents/dhs/Pub_0016_206544_7.pdf– Food Assistance Program Overview (2011). In Department of Human Services . Retrieved April 19, 2011, from hkp://www.michigan.gov/dhs/0,1607,7‐124‐5453_5527‐21832‐‐,00.htmlhkp://www.michigan.gov/dhs/ 0,1607,7‐124‐5453_5527‐21832‐‐,00.html– Inks, N. (n.d.). COLUMN: Michigan’s former Bridge Card policy unnecessary excepGon. In Central Michigan Life . Retrieved February 17, 2011, from hkp://www.cm‐life.com/2011/02/17/column‐michigans‐former‐ bridge‐card‐policy‐unnecessary‐excepGon/hkp://www.cm‐life.com/2011/02/17/column‐michigans‐former‐ bridge‐card‐policy‐unnecessary‐excepGon/– Luke, Peter. " Most Michigan college students will be ineligible for Bridge Card food assistance | MLive.com." MichiganLocal News, Breaking News, Sports & Weather - MLive.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2011. <http://www.mlive.com/politics/index.ssf/ 2011/02/most_michigan_college_students– Supplemental NutriGon Assistance Program (n.d.). In United States Department of Agriculture: Food and Nutri?on Service . Retrieved April 30, 2009, from hkp://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/rules/LegislaGon/about.htm
References Cont..State of Michigan Department of Human Services. (n.d.). Assistance Applica?on Informa?on Booklet. Retrieved (April 19,2011) hkp://www.michigan.gov/documents/dhs/DHS_InformaGon_Boo klet_and_Assistance_ApplicaGon_242170_7.pdf State of Michigan Department of Human Services. (n.d.). FAP Eligibility Requirements. Retrieved (April 19, 2011) hkp:// www.michigan.gov/dhs/0,1607,7‐124‐5453_5527‐13176‐‐,00.html State of Michigan Department of Human Services. (n.d.). FAP Work Requirements. Retrieved (April 19, 2011) hkp:// www.michigan.gov/dhs/0,1607,7‐124‐5453_5527‐13180‐‐,00.html Witbeck, C. (2011 , February 24). New Rules May Decrease Number of Students Receiving Beneﬁts . In The North Wind. Retrieved April 19, 2011, from http://www.thenorthwindonline.com/?p=3860275