The DTE Energy Foundation today announced a $3 million grant to United Way for Southeastern Michigan and partner agencies to help feed Michiganders in Southeastern Michigan. As food insecurity continues to rise and assistance programs decline, this support for meals and critical nourishment will help bridge the gap for families in need. According to United Way, food insecurity calls have increased more than 33 percent over the last two months. This grant will provide immediate support, however more still needs to be done to ensure long-term stability for those in need.  

This month, households across Southeastern Michigan saw a significant decrease in food support under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, as increased benefits designed to provide relief to low-income households during the COVID-19 pandemic expired. This is driving what’s being called a “hunger cliff” by many as the decline in benefits combined with an increase in grocery prices due to inflation drives a spike in food insecurity for struggling families. 

“Many in our state are facing significant challenges and especially with our neighbors losing the SNAP boost, we knew we had to expand our support and provide hope in a truly tangible way,” said Lynette Dowler, DTE Foundation president. “At the DTE Foundation, we know a healthier, more vital Michigan begins with creating stable households where basic needs are met. United Way for Southeastern Michigan shares our commitment to addressing critical needs, removing barriers to basic needs. We’re grateful for their direct line to Michigan’s most vulnerable residents and their ability to change lives in our community.” 

“This support from the DTE Foundation is putting food on the tables of people who need it most and helping fund ongoing work to address food insecurity in our region. The timing couldn’t be more vital for families, so many of whom are struggling with grocery bills as federal support decreases and food costs continue to rise,” said Dr. Darienne Hudson, president and CEO at United Way for Southeastern Michigan. “United Way works every day to ensure families have access to programs and services to get out of crisis and achieve stability. At a time when there is so much need, we are grateful to partners like the DTE Foundation for providing the resources necessary for us to help those most in need.”  

Within the past year, the DTE Foundation has awarded more than $500,000 to address food insecurity. 

“This is a historic grant for the DTE Foundation, one of the largest in our history. We know that families are struggling and are blessed to make a difference in Southeast Michigan,” said Dowler.  

“With our partners like the DTE Foundation, we are working every day to help families get out of crisis — and stay out,” said Dr. Hudson. “We hope other organizations will join in this mission to help stabilize Michigan homes.” 

The grant allowed United Way for Southeastern Michigan to distribute the $3 million funding throughout the region where the need was greatest. 20,000 households have been provided a $100 gift card redeemable at Kroger to use towards food and basic needs.  

Additionally to help bridge the grocery gap, a portion of the support will be distributed to Gleaners, Forgotten Harvest, Food Gatherers, Fair Food Network, Operation Refuge, Redford Interfaith Relief, and Hospitality House to boost supply for local food pantries. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates roughly 31 million people will be affected by the reduced assistance as grocery prices remain high. 

To get this one-time support in the hands of those who need it most as quickly and efficiently as possible, United Way for Southeastern Michigan used two basic eligibility criteria to distribute the gift cards. Those who have participated in select United Way assistance programs in the last two years, as well as those who live in areas with the greatest concentration of need as defined by United Way’s ALICE report were eligible to apply.