Clock Ticking on Government Assistance Programs

Nearly two million people in Michigan rely on the government for food assistance which could be in jeopardy now because of the shutdown.

The state Department of Human Services will still disburse funds through the end of October onto Bridge Cards for the some 1.75 million people receiving federally funded food stamps along with the more than 100,000 individuals who receive cash assistance, according to David Akerly, a DHS spokesperson.

For Lansing resident Cindy Aldrich, food stamps are an essential lifeline.

"It means I get to eat because without food stamps I couldn't do it," she said.

Aldrich relies on food assistance because she has trouble moving around and said her disability keeps her from being able to work.

She said the possibility of losing the assistance would be devastating.

"Even at 55 years old I wish I could go to work," she said. "If I couldn't get my food stamps I don't know what would happen."

But at least for now though, she and millions of other Michiganders will still be able to receive food assistance.

"We're good to go through the month of October," Akerly said. "These funds have been pre-approved."

The state averaged about $241 million in food assistance for the month of August, according to Akerly.

Akerly said issues could start to arise though if a lengthy shutdown ensues.

"A very short shutdown is not going to affect our clients," he said. "But a longer term shutdown certainly could and if we get that far down the road we'll be entering uncharted territory."

While food stamp funding will last through the end of October, funding for the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) could run out in as soon as two weeks, according to Akerly.

The Women, Infants and Children feeding program (WIC) could also face a similar fate, according to John Nixon, the state budget director.

While Aldrich said she's grateful to be in the clear for now, she's still worried about future possibilities and is angered by what's happening in Washington D.C.

"How far is this going to go before someone wakes up and says people come first," she said. "Not business, not government, but people."

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