State to contact 5,000 Michigan families who may be eligible for food assistance

A new utility is working to reach Michigan families who are unknowingly eligible for food assistance or who might otherwise have difficulty applying.

In a Monday, December 6 press release, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced the launch of the MI Benefits Center. The service is intended to help Michigan residents apply for much-needed food assistance, connect families to benefits, and lower costs for Michigan families.

“My top priority every day is making life easier for Michigan families by making changes that make a difference in their lives, and the MI Benefits Center is the latest innovation to help us lower food costs for Michigan families,” Whitmer said.

“By providing additional relief to Michigan families on their grocery bills, we can ease the financial burden on Michigan residents, lower costs and put more money in people’s pockets, putting Michigan first.” . “

The MI Benefits Center will have a team of trained benefits specialists who will provide phone assistance for applications to remove barriers that prevent some Michigan residents from accessing food assistance.

The MDHHS anticipates that outreach specialists will help process 5,000 successful food aid requests under the Federal Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The result would be about $ 1.1 million per month – or $ 13.2 million per year – in family benefits and $ 1.7 million in monthly economic stimulus for the state.

Additional funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and philanthropic organizations will allow the MI Benefits Center to invest up to $ 1.2 million to support Michigan residents over the next year.

Recently, the MI Benefits Center has started sending letters to seniors and others who may be eligible for food assistance benefits but who are not enrolled in the program. The letters will encourage people to call a toll-free phone number for free assistance or to apply directly at www.michigan.gov/MIBridges.

The State Department noted that the phone number is only for people who receive letters from the MI Benefits Center. Michigan residents who do not receive a letter can apply for food aid and other public assistance benefits at www.michigan.gov/MIBridges.

When people who receive the letter call the MI Benefits Center, they will be put in touch with a Benefits Awareness Specialist who will review them for the benefits, offer to help them collect the required application documents, and submit the claims to them. name. MDHHS said this personalized attention can help relieve pressure for people struggling with the application, streamline the process, and increase the success rate of those applications.

“We know that Michiganders in need often face multiple barriers in accessing support services that will help them feed their families,” said Elizabeth Hertel, Director of MDHHS. “Our goal is to reduce and eliminate these barriers as much as possible. This outreach effort is our last effort in recent years to ensure that everyone eligible for support can access it. “

MDHHS partners with Benefits Data Trust, an organization focused on improving access to public assistance programs by conducting data-driven awareness and assistance activities, as well as providing policy assistance to states nationwide.

“Making it as easy as possible for individuals and families to access help to meet their food, education, health care and other needs is essential to improving health.” and Michigan’s economic future, ”said Trooper Sanders, CEO of Benefits Data Trust. . “We know that streamlining benefits works and we are grateful for the opportunity to support the broader Michigan State initiative to improve the lives of Michigan residents by connecting them to benefits. “

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