LANSING, Mich. (Nov. 21, 2023) — With Thanksgiving just around the corner, the Michigan Senate Democrats extend warm wishes for a happy, safe and healthy Thanksgiving to the people of Michigan. Recognizing the significance of food security during the holiday season, Senate Democrats have ensured that food security remains a top priority to create a more supportive environment for all Michiganders, from kids to seniors.

Earlier this year, the Michigan Senate, spearheaded by Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), worked to repeal a decade-old Republican-authored policy that imposed a restrictive asset test for federal food assistance eligibility. The outdated policy has been eliminated, ensuring greater accessibility to food assistance for those in need.

“A safety net only works if you can use it before you hit the ground,” Sen. Irwin said. “Food assistance is meant to help families get over a rough spot. But refusing to help people until they have fallen even deeper into poverty makes it harder for them to get back on their feet.”

In the historic 2024 state budget, significant investments have been made to fortify food security across Michigan, including related funding for the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

The MDARD budget included substantial advancements in promoting access to healthy food, such as doubling ongoing funding for Michigan’s Double Up Food Bucks program and allocating an additional $2 million for the fiscal year. This initiative matches Michigan-grown produce purchases for residents using food assistance, allowing them to obtain twice the fresh produce for their families while supporting local farmers.

Moreover, the state budget allocated $160 million to universal school meals, ensuring a year of free school breakfasts and lunches for Michigan’s students.

“As a former educator and an ongoing advocate for our kids, teachers and schools, I am so proud to have helped deliver this monumental school budget that invests in the areas of greatest need for our students and our school system,” said Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D-Livonia). “We are ensuring that all kids have the food they need to thrive and the supports they need to succeed, and that their schools have the funding necessary to address all students’ needs.”   

In addition to these efforts, significant budget investments have been directed toward food banks and community centers across Michigan to enhance food accessibility, which include:  

  • $1 million in funding to provide home-delivered Meals on Wheels programs through the Area Agencies on Aging; 
  • $12 million for the Michigan Agriculture Surplus System to purchase surplus agricultural products for food banks throughout the state; 
  • A one-time $1 million allocation, along with $525,000 in ongoing funding, to Kids’ Food Basket to increase access to healthy food for Michigan children and families; 
  • $5 million to support delivery costs and fees of food purchased remotely using SNAP food assistance benefits; and 
  • $10 million on a one-time basis to increase access to healthy food programming. 

Though not exhaustively listed, these initiatives underscore Michigan Senate Democrats’ unwavering commitment to creating a more resilient and inclusive food landscape and working to ensure no Michigander goes hungry. During this holiday season and beyond, Michigan Senate Democrats encourage residents to volunteer at local food banks, support community organizations and share in the spirit of gratitude.