Food assistance has skyrocketed since 2000
In 2000, Michigan had 580,000 people on food stamps. By 2011, that number had grown to 1.9 million people as nearly 1 in 5 Michigan residents were on the Food Assistance Program.
But after 11 consecutive years of increases, Michigan has seen the number of people on food stamps decrease the past two years, according to the state’s annual reports.
After reaching the high-water mark of 1,928,478 in 2011, the number of people on food stamps dropped to 1,828,384 in 2012 and then to 1,775,646 in 2013.
Don Grimes, an economist for the University of Michigan, said the recent decrease looks to be driven by the improving economy.
"There is a very strong negative correlation (-0.61) between the change in the number of people collecting food stamps and the number of people holding jobs (measured on either the household or establishment basis),” Grimes said. “Food stamp usage grew faster than expected given the growth in employment in 2010 and 2011 when eligibility criteria were loosened."
Bob Wheaton, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Human Services, said the state is reviewing what could be behind the drop in food stamps recipients and would have a response by mid-September.
The Food Assistance Program offers temporary food assistance for eligible low-income families. The state issues Bridge Cards for recipients.