Michigan Hunger and Poverty Policy Questions

Please read these questions and let us know what your organization and others in the Wolverine State are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction that helps those in need.

Virtually all states have budget deficits and extensive financial problems this year and beyond.  The states are also the custodians and administrators of multi billions of dollars of federal assistance programs. State policies related to hunger and poverty contain a great deal of state money that is in short supply right now but much more federal money that can grow as the use of the programs grows.

These state policy questions are meant to begin a conversation about how states can deliver more services to their citizens who are facing extreme long term unemployment, hunger, home foreclosures and loss of health insurance and pensions. 

Please read them and let us know what your organization and others in your state are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction that helps those in need, especially the poorest of the poor, the millions of new poor, seniors, returning vets, children and the homeless.

Our intention is to create a place on our website that will highlight policy actions that state based organizations are taking and how they are proceeding.  We also hope to host a WhyHunger State Policy Award for the best state policies in the U.S.A.

1) Michigan has above average poverty rates for its population and children. The percentage of the population living in extreme poverty is the 10th highest in that nation. Who is working to end poverty in the state? What are they doing? How successful have they been?
2) Michigan does not have a Shared Work Program.  Why not?  Is there any effort to bring one to the state?
3) Participation in both the School Breakfast Program and School Lunch Program are below the national average. Given the exceptionally high rate of hunger in Michigan, especially among children, is there any effort to increase the rates of participation in any of the above programs?
4) The rate of participation in the Summer Nutrition Program is below average. Are there any efforts to expand this program, such as increasing the number of food distribution locations?
5) SNAP participation among the working poor is the 4th highest percentage in the nation at 84%. What contributes to the success of this program?
6) The benefit level of the Seniors Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program is below the national average.  Is there any effort underway to increase benefits for this program?
7) The infant mortality rate and obesity rate are both well above national averages. What effort is being made to address the health problems of the state?
8) Michigan has the 2nd highest unemployment rate in the country, though it has a below average unemployment insurance participation rate and an average unemployment benefit amount.  Is there any movement to increase participation rate in unemployment insurance or increase the unemployment benefit?
9) Michigan has the 9th largest homeless population out of all the states. 51.6% of renters spend 30% or more of their income on rent and utilities. Is there any effort to increase low-income, affordable housing as a method of combating homelessness?
10) LIHEAP serves 38% of households, the 4th highest percentage in the nation. What aspects of the program are leading to such an outcome?
11) There is a 6% tax on non-prescription drugs, which is exempt from tax in most states. Is there any push to remove this tax?
12) At 22%, Michigan has by far the highest percent of state budget spent on corrections.  Is there any effort underway to decrease this rate?  Are there any movements towards introducing alternatives to sentencing for non-violent offenders or implementing programs to reduce recidivism?
13) What other statewide policies or programs are you aware of that are helping to fight hunger and poverty, or are there any that are responsible for increasing it?

Please let us know what your organization and others in your state are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction to address these questions by contacting Executive Director and Co-Founder Bill Ayres at [email protected]

Feel free to inform us of any mistakes we may have made in any of these questions. Also we would appreciate any comments on policies or statistics that might have been overlooked.