Food banks seek state assistance

The food bank's struggles are making it hard to keep shelves stocked.
The food bank's struggles are making it hard to keep shelves stocked.(KAIT)
Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 4:30 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WNEM) - The Food Bank Council of Michigan is seeking state support as food costs rise, causing the demand for emergency food to rise with it.

Hope for a solution lies, according to the FBCM, in a $50 million line item on in the 2022 to 2023 state budget to support the work of the food banks. The hope is that funds will increase infrastructure to better serve northern counties and the Upper Peninsula and decrease transportation expenses. The one-time allocations also covers a hunger study to give Michigan the data needed to align federal, state and commodity programs to meet residents’ needs, the FBCM said.

According to FBCM, a $15 million provision in Senate Bill 885 creates a farm-to-family food box program.

“The Food Bank Council and its members were here for Michigan during the pandemic to address the unprecedented need for emergency food,” said Dr. Phil Knight, FBCM executive director. “We did so by increasing distributions by an incredible 47 percent Michigan put its trust in the Food Bank Council of Michigan’s network when it needed us most, and now we need the state’s support to most effectively address food insecurity.”

Currently, according to FBCM, food banks are moving twice as many truckloads of food compared to before the pandemic. At the same time, transportation costs are up 20 percent in the past year alone coupled with rising food costs.

“An inflation rate of over 8 percent means the families served and food bank donations do not go as far in meeting the gap,” Knight said.

In addition, the FBCM expects Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) emergency allotments will cease once the public health emergency is lifted later this year. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 60,000 SNAP participants will see benefits reduced to $20 monthly (minimum amount) and another 50,000 participants will have benefits lowered to $50 monthly.

“The result is longer lines at our distributors when food becomes scarcer to us and more expensive. We are preparing now but our trend data is already showing a marked increase in need across our network,” Knight said.