September 25, 2020 Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Follow online: www.hungryforjusticemi.com
***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
Michigan Lifts Lifetime Food Assistance Benefits Ban for Individuals with Felony Drug Convictions, Effective October 1, 2020.
Lansing, MI – Yesterday, the Michigan legislature changed the state’s policy that places a lifetime ban on accessing SNAP benefits for anyone with two or more drug felony convictions.
Hungry For Justice, a newly formed statewide coalition made up of individuals and organizations from across Michigan that promote policies ensuring equal access to food, commends the state Legislature for changing the state’s policy that placed a lifetime ban on accessing SNAP benefits for anyone with two or more drug felony convictions.
It has never been more urgent to ensure public benefits like SNAP are accessible to all Michiganders, regardless of conviction history. As COVID-19 continues to ravage the state, its Black residents, overrepresented in Michigan’s prison population, are at highest risk COVID-19 related hardships: food insecurity, job loss, death and hospitalizations.
This change will substantially increase access to affordable food, job and training options for these individuals and their families. It is also a direct investment in Black communities across Michigan through federal resources.
Hungry for Justice will continue to push for the passage of Senate Bill 1006 sponsored by Senate Minority Leader James Ananich as a budget implementation bill. If passed, it will enshrine this reform in statute, making it much more difficult to undo in subsequent budget processes. We are pleased Michigan will no longer deny access to SNAP for people with felony drug convictions — SNAP is one of the most successful public benefits programs in the nation, and is a crucial resource and support to those who need them most while attempting to reintegrate into society. This change needs to be further cemented into statute, which SB 1006 will accomplish. While this progress is commendable, more work needs to be done in order for the state to truly achieve food justice for all.
Our coalition is currently working with MDHHS to enact policy changes that can improve food access for people with disabilities. We are also interested in finding a legislative solution to the barriers that people with disabilities face when trying to use their food assistance benefits. For example, ordering fees and restrictions on how the EBT card can be used present access issues that force people with disabilities to choose between going hungry and putting their health at risk. This is not a choice that anyone should have to make. A just, equitable and sustainable food system must be accessible to all. It is necessary to provide physical, economic and community health and ensure a life with dignity and freedom from oppression and exploitation for all Michiganders.
### Hungry For Justice is a broad and diverse statewide coalition of organizations and members with various areas of expertise and experiences -- organizations working to advance criminal justice reform, disability advocates, and others have joined in solidarity to ensure equal access to food for all who call Michigan home. Our aim is to center the voices, concerns and advance proposed solutions by Michiganders who suffer most from chronic and systemic disinvestment to promote racial equity, disability justice, and shared prosperity. Find our Partners Letters of Support and Press releases here: