Chicago Tribune, May 11, 2008: Mich. food stamp use up 53% since 2003, rate well above US

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Associated Press

10:13 AM CDT, May 11, 2008


The number of Michigan households getting food stamps has risen 53 percent in the past five years, with one in eight state residents now aided by the nutrition assistance program, authorities say.

In all, 590,600 state households got food stamps in March, the Michigan Department of Human Services says. The households include 1.26 million people, or 12.5 percent of the state’s 10.07 million residents.

Nationwide, 27.7 million people received food stamps in January — or 9.2 percent of the nation’s 300 million people.

Michigan’s economic distress is more widespread than in past recessions, said Gerry Brisson, vice president for development at Gleaners Food Bank. The group supplies 400 food aid agencies.

“The big difference now is the number of people in suburbs who are feeling it,” Brisson told the Detroit Free Press for a story Sunday. “Poverty in (Detroit) has been bad for a long time, but poverty in the suburbs is going up in Livingston, Oakland and Macomb counties.”

Mike Remenar lives in the affluent Detroit suburb of Grosse Pointe Woods and said he never thought he would find himself using food stamps to feed his family.

The 60-year-old auto parts designer said he has been unable to find suitable work since losing his job 10 months ago.

“In the past 10 years, I’ve been laid off a number of times, but never this long,” he said. “Especially living in this community, to be in this position is a bit awkward.”

The average food stamp allowance is about $100 per person per month.


Michigan Department of Human Services:

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