LANSING, Mich. (Nov. 22, 2021) — Coinciding with the start of the holiday season, Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) has introduced Senate Bill 725 to fight food insecurity by ending asset testing for Michigan’s Food Assistance Program.

Under current law, many Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients are forced to jump through several hoops to receive and maintain food assistance benefits, including meeting regular work requirements and being restricted from purchasing specific food — like hot, ready-made turkeys or mashed potatoes. In addition to these obligations, beneficiaries are subject to a $15,000 asset test requiring that they must not have more than that amount in any account to receive SNAP benefits.

“Before Thanksgiving, we’re probably thinking about having to choose between having one more slice of turkey or another piece of pie,” Sen. Irwin said. “Sadly, some of our neighbors are thinking about either putting food on their table or saving money to buy a working car, fix their home, or pay for medication.”

Michigan State University’s Fall 2021 Food Literacy and Engagement Poll found that 31% of Americans said the pandemic has affected their ability to obtain food. This included 28% of households earning less than $25,000, and 38% of those earning more than $75,000 annually. Additionally, nearly 1.3 million Michiganders — or 1 in 8 people — are struggling with hunger.

Passing SB 725 would ensure that every person in Michigan who needs food assistance, based on federal income eligibility rules, would get the benefits they deserve.

“Asset testing for food assistance can lock people into poverty by forcing them to choose between having food or saving money so they won’t need assistance. Denying food assistance for struggling, working class Michiganders increases hunger and hurts our economy,” Sen. Irwin said. “What makes this even worse is that Michigan is wasting your state tax dollars on a bureaucracy that exists solely to deny benefits to working people in our state. We need to end asset testing.”