Traverse City Record-Eagle

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November 3, 2013

Food assistance cuts loom for 21,000 area residents

TRAVERSE CITY— More than 21,000 people in the five-county Grand Traverse region will receive a little less money on their Bridge card this month to help buy groceries.

After four years, a federal stimulus program that pumped $45.2 billion into a food stamp program known as SNAP has expired. A family of four with no income that received $668 will receive $36 less, or about a 5 percent cut.

The cut affects about 21,300 people in the region who received an average of $121 for September. That equates to $1.34 per meal, according to the Michigan Department of Human Services.

Meanwhile, the Republican-dominated U.S. House approved a much more significant cut — $4 billion each year over the next decade. The measure, part of the omnibus farm bill, would remove 3.8 million people from food stamp rolls. The Democratic-led Senate proposed an alternative, $400,000 million yearly trim.

Reaction to the food card cut was mixed at the Garfield Shop N Go grocery store, where economy-minded people often shop to stretch their food dollar.

Sandra Day, a single mother of two teen girls, wondered why assistance is going down while the price of food is going up. Day used to receive food assistance, but was told she no longer qualified.

“They said I make too much money,” said Day, adding she doesn't receive child support. “I don’t think they consider all your bills, at least the food prices going up."

Day said she earns $11.60 an hour at an adult foster care home and expects to receive a small raise soon.

Gary Keene, a retired Traverse City accountant, was glad to hear of the cut.

“I think the government gives too much money as it is," he said. "People get so dependent on the money and that’s what the government wants. Then they can control everything.”

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