Michigan Department of Human Services: 100,000 apply for food assistance online
New application gives access to those who can't visit a local office

Contact: Edward Woods III, Office of Communications director, 517-373-7394

June 1, 2010

More than 100,000 people have applied for food assistance online at www.michigan.gov/mibridges, giving them access to healthy food and their local economies a shot in the arm, Michigan Department of Human Services Director Ismael Ahmed said today.

"We are dedicated to providing food assistance to as many eligible Michigan families as possible," Ahmed said. "The online application is a big help, to us and our clients, as we work to meet that goal."

Already, almost 1.8 million people in Michigan receive food assistance - a figure that's growing by about 30,000 people per month. More than 106,000 people have submitted their applications online since the option was launched in August 2009.

Food assistance serves as a stop-gap measure to help people maintain nutrition during tough times, Ahmed said, adding that the average person receives food assistance for less than two years.

Almost 190 community partners have been identified across the state that have computers people can use to access the application. DHS also now has about 60 computer stations in 30 local offices that people can use to access the application.

The online application is part of the department's efforts to increase access to food and create an economic impact through client's buying power.

For example, Michigan successfully pursued and secured more than $500 million in additional federal food assistance and other funds in fiscal years 2009 and 2010 to help residents and create jobs statewide. Money spent on Michigan products help farmers and distributors, and groceries can hire workers to handle the increase in demand.

In March, as many as 180,000 households that currently receive food assistance saw an increased benefit of about $88 per month on average. In fact, Michigan is one of only five states that have been able to change how they calculate benefits, resulting in more food assistance for thousands of people.

Just this one program could put an estimated $16 million in additional direct food dollars into Michigan communities each month and nearly $200 million into communities each year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that every $5 of food benefits generates about $9.20 in economic activity in communities. The additional direct food benefits put into communities could generate an estimated $360 million in annual economic activity, including through increased demand for goods and services. Money spent on Michigan products help farmers and distributors, and groceries can hire workers to handle the increase in demand.

Follow DHS on Twitter @MichiganDHS or become a fan at www.facebook.com/MichiganDHS.

Editor's Note: A list of local partners that have computer stations that can be used to apply for food assistance online is attached.