Michigan’s Cost for Food Stamps Has More than Doubled Since Pandemic Hit

by Tom Gantert and Brett Rowland


The cost of Michigan’s food stamp program has more than doubled since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The costs have increased from $1.70 billion in 2018-19 to $3.61 billion in 2021-22 with one month left in the fiscal year.

On Tuesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced people receiving food assistance benefits would get an additional $95 a month in November.

The number of people receiving benefits have increased from 1.18 million in 2018-19 to 1.35 million in 2021-22, a 14% increase over that four-year period.

In Michigan, food assistance is administered via a Bridge Card.

“This extra $95 will help families get a little breathing room as we enter the holiday season,” Whitmer said in a news release. “I will continue to work with anyone at the federal and state level to help Michiganders put food on the table and keep their hard-earned dollars to pay for other critical household expenses.”

The federal government funds the benefits of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The states’ share in the cost of administrating the program.

“The increase may simply be a function of federal responses to the COVID-19 era,” said Michael LaFaive, a fiscal policy analyst with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “Spending is likely to fall again over time, just as SNAP spending rose and fell during and after the Great Recession. It is not the only assistance program to see greater spending during the pandemic era.”

In 2005-06, two years before the start of the Great Recession, the cost of SNAP benefits in Michigan was $91.05 per person. That increased to $121.06 in 2008-09 and reached $135.84 per person in 2011-12. By 2015-16, costs were down to $122.58 per person. The Great Recession occurred from 2007 to 2009.

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Tom Gantert worked at many daily newspapers including the Ann Arbor News, Lansing State Journal and USA Today. Gantert was the managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential for five years before joining The Center Square.

Brett Rowland is an award-winning journalist who has worked as an editor and reporter in newsrooms in Illinois and Wisconsin. He is an investigative reporter for The Center Square.


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