Kalamazoo students are among the 20,000 Michigan residents that will be losing their bridge cards due to new legislation. The Department of Human Services announced this drastic cut to the Food Assistance Program that allows low-income residents, such as students, to obtain healthier food options.
Before this change, being a college student was enough reason to apply for and receive food stamps or a bridge card; but additional conditions must now be met as well. A student must demonstrate that they are working at least 20 hours a week, are caring for young children under the age of six, or have some sort of physical or mental disability.
These cuts are a means to reduce the state’s budget deficit, but to what cost? A Kalamazoo student who receives food stamps and who wished to remain anonymous said “I understand why they doing it but I disagree with it because the people least able to take hits are the ones who do when the deficit is up,” He said that cuts should be made to programs that affect people who can afford the change, “not the people struggling for food to keep them healthy.”
This legislation is also in response to those individuals who are taking advantage of this program and do not actually exhibit any great need for it. The same anonymous student said that these allegations have legitimate ground. “Most people I know who have a bridge card don’t need one. I’m one of the few people whose nutrition goes down when I don’t have one,” he said, “I know a girl who gets an $800 allowance from her parents every month and still has a bridge card.”
His own die, he said, will suffer. This student said that he will be unable to purchase as many fruits and vegetables as he does under the former program and more affordable options like boxes of pasta will most likely become a staple. Despite the fact that he has witnessed the program being abused by students, he does not believe that this change is fair to those who actually are need of the assistance.
“You don’t cut a program just because some people abuse it. On the playground, when one kid hits another kid with a plastic bat, you don’t take the plastic bats away from all the kids. You teach the one kid to stop hitting. You have to stop the abuse, not cut the program.”