September 22, 2020
Dear Members of the Senate Families, Seniors and Veterans Committee:
Hungry For Justice is a statewide coalition made up of organizations and individuals working together to promote statewide policies to ensure equal access to food.
The Hungry For Justice coalition submits this writing in support of Senate Bill 1006 which, if enacted, will be a critical part of ending the practice of permanently banning access to all food assistance benefits in Michigan for individuals with two or more drug felony convictions.
Food justice is a racial justice and criminal justice issue. The passage of SB 1006 is an opportunity for the legislature to craft policies that address the inequities driving Michigan’s dubious distinction as one of the nation’s leading states in racial disparities across the board.
Black people are disproportionately food insecure and COVID-19 has only exacerbated this: 41% of Black households are currently food insecure compared to 23% overall. Black Michiganders are 14% of the state’s racial demographic but account for over 40% of the state’s COVID-19 related deaths. In addition, Black people make up only 14% of Michigan’s residents but account for 50% of the statewide prison population. This will substantially increase access to affordable food options for these individuals and their families as a result of the reforms in this bill.
SB 1006 is a critical part of our efforts to make essential reforms to SNAP at a critical moment in our country, and Michigan specifically by lowering barriers to individuals with convictions to access an inclusive food system. Structural racism in both the criminal legal and food systems, in particular, has plagued too many Michiganders, putting Black and brown families, people who have been in the legal system and other marginalized groups at increased risk of poverty, incarceration and their concomitant health challenges.
Passing SB 1006 is also a step towards realizing the state’s broader commitment to “keep Michigan healthy,” demonstrating the state’s belief that food is a human right and in so doing, strengthen our communities by supporting access to essential food supports that help all of Michigan’s residents live full, healthy and productive lives.
It is with these considerations in mind that we implore you to pass SB 1006 and continue the state’s push for a just, equitable and sustainable food system for improved public health.
Read our partner BirthSafe.org's testimony here