Hunger and Nutrition

The issue of food insecurity is a very real issue that has a significant impact on people’s livelihood all across America.  America is one of the wealthiest counties in the world with our agricultural industries competing on the world stage to bring in billions of dollars into our domestic economy. Yet, hunger has remained a domestic problem for far too long.

Critical federal programs like the Supplemental Food Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) play a major role in combating food insecurity in America.  

Commodity Supplemental Food Assistance Program (CSFP):

The Commodity Supplemental Food Program is a Federally funded program, which works to improve the health of low-income pregnant and breastfeeding women, other new mothers up to one year postpartum, infants, children up to age six, and elderly people at least 60 years of age by supplementing their diets with nutritious USDA foods. USDA purchases food and makes it available to CSFP state agencies and Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs). Ninety-seven percent of all CSFP recipients are seniors with income levels at or below $15,171. CSFP is often a program of last resort for seniors who qualify for no other form of nutrition assistance.   

Letter from the National CSFP Association regarding Congressman Levin's leadership on CSFP
Letter supporting CSFP funding for 2018
Letter supporting CSFP funding for 2017

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) & the Farm Bill:

SNAP, is a national anti-hunger initiative used to reduce food insecurity through America. As of January 2017, a total of 42,936 families in Michigan’s 9th Congressional district were enrolled in the program 44% of those families have children under 18 years of age.

  • Over two thirds of all SNAP participants are in families with children
  • 92% of nutritional assistance programs aid seniors, disabled, and children with working parents.
  • About a 1/3 of SNAP participants are working families
  • 92% of SNAP households have gross income at or below 100 percent of the poverty guideline (that comes to $20,420 for a family of three in 2017)

In 2013, the Republican controlled House of Representatives passed for the first time, a Farm Bill that did not reauthorize the SNAP program.  When the House did bring a bill to the floor that included the SNAP program, the legislation would have slashed SNAP benefits by $40 billion - a severe cut that would result in an estimated 3.8 million Americans being thrown off the program.  47.3 million Americans enrolled monthly in the SNAP program go to work every day, raise their kids and live productive lives and yet are still unable to scrape enough together to provide food for an entire month

Economists have found that SNAP is one of the most effective forms of economic stimulus, especially in a weak economy. According to a study by, the USDA’s Economic Research Service, every $5 increase in SNAP benefits generates as much as $9 in economic activity.

As Congress begins work on the 2018 Farm Bill, I look forward to supporting policy improvements to strengthen the program, without undermining the key programmatic elements that make SNAP so effective today.

House GOP Votes to Nix Nutrition Title of Farm Bill

Farm Bill Implodes on House Floor

Letter Rejecting Rep. King's Farm Bill Provisions

Levin Statement at Farm Bill Conference Committee Meeting

Levin Supports Senate Funding Levels to SNAP

SNAP Challenge:

In the past, to highlight the significance of the program and the misguided attempt to derail it, Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter and Macomb Commissioner Toni Moceri and I took the “SNAP Challenge” for 1 week, living off of $4.50 a day.  This Challenge gave us a view of the struggle that millions of low-income Americans face as they try to obtain adequate food.  The goal of this challenge is to force participants to make food shopping choices on a limited budget, and learn how difficult it is to avoid hunger, afford nutritious foods, and stay healthy without adequate resources.  While living on a food stamp budget for just a week cannot come close to the struggles encountered by low-income families week after week and month after month, it does provide those who take the Challenge with a new perspective and greater understanding of this vital program.

Think food aid should be cut? Try living on so little yourself

Food Stamp users rely on a strong safety net

Congressman Sandy Levin Learns to Live on $31.50-a-Week Food Stamp

Congressman Sander Levin to live on $31 food budget for a week

Health Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA): 

The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act authorizes funding for all of the federal child nutrition programs including the School Breakfast, National School Lunch, Child and Adult Care Food, Summer Food Service, and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Programs and WIC. These programs provide funding to ensure that low-income children have access to healthy food.  More than 31 million children that rely on school meals through the school lunch program and many, if not all, receive most of their daily meals in school. 17 million children are living in food insecure households and one out of every five children in America now considered overweight, therefore schools often are on the front lines of our national challenge to combat childhood obesity and improve children’s overall health.  Federal nutrition programs need to do their part to raise and sustain nutritional standards.

The HHFKA expired on September 30, 2015.  Since then, Congress has made no changes to the school nutrition programs. It is time for Congress to further strengthen programs and address more effectively the needs of our nation’s children and young adults

Congressman Sander Levin urges for $35 million in funding for school breakfast program

Local Hunger and Nutrition Resources:

The following food banks serve Macomb and Oakland County. You can help by donating food directly or by making a monetary contribution. In addition, they are all looking for volunteers to help sort the food once it’s been collected, so please consider volunteering your time.

Gleaners Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan
2131 Beaufait
Detroit, MI 48207

Forgotten Harvest
21800 Greenfield Road
Oak Park, MI 48237
(248) 967-1500

Macomb Food Program
21885 Dunham Road
VerKuilen Building, Suite #10
Clinton Township, MI 48036

(Updated September 2017)