Low-income seniors bear the brunt of MI opting out of Farm Bill - WNEM TV 5

Low-income seniors bear the brunt of MI opting out of Farm Bill benefits

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)
SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

A gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, a dozen eggs, a pound of cheese, a package of chicken and two apples.

That is $16 worth of food. It may not seem like a lot, but for some, it's all they have to spend on food for an entire month

Barbara Smith lives on $16 worth of food every month

It didn't use to be this way, but since 2014, her Bridge Card allowance was cut from $160 to $16.

“It's in the forefront of my mind,” Smith said. “I go to sleep at night, and I think about it. Like, what am I going to eat the next day when I get up?”

In 2014, after Congress passed the Farm Bill, Michigan decided to opt out of benefits affecting some low income recipients. 

For many low-income seniors, this means money they relied on for food, is no longer there.

“You can't buy very much. If you want to buy something healthy, that amount doesn't go very far,” Smith said.

Smith, a retired nurse, knows the importance of good nutrition. She stretches every dollar she can. 

“I went to Save-A-Lot, they had 29 cent chicken thighs,” Smith said. “I bought a big bag of those and I've been creative making meals off that. One chicken thigh, yesterday I had it with some julienne potatoes I got from a food giveaway.”

But Smith is not alone, this is an issue facing many people in your own community.

Saginaw City Council member Annie Boensch is outspoken in her disgust with what's happening.

“It makes me angry, and frustrated. This is not the way you take care of the most vulnerable people in your community,” Boensch said.

Annette Jeske is a local advocate for older people on public assistance.  She said not enough, if anything, is being done by lawmakers to fix this problem.

“We are really hoping that folks can take a look at this and give us some support,” Jeske said.

Smith said while her 16 dollars a month for food makes life tough, she feels for those have it worse, and hopes something changes.

“You don't ignore people,” Smith said.

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