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Board hears of veterans programs

HOUGHTON — Michigan State University Extension is providing a first-of-its-kind partnership to make veterans aware of a program that could benefit them.

Paul Putnam, District 1 Coordinator, spoke to the Houghton County Board Tuesday about the outreach MSU is doing with veterans for income-based Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

The number of veterans per capita in the Upper Peninsula is higher than the state and national level, Putnam said. A large portion of them are also elderly.

“If you’re a veteran, and especially if you’re elderly, and you’re looking at $1,000, $1,200 to $1,500 in income, $200 to $300 of food benefits that they’ve earned through their service and are eligible for, can be a big difference in honoring veterans,” he said.

Jim Yates, a retired Marine and the military veteran program instructor for MSU Extension’s Marquette office, has been contacting Veterans Services offices throughout the Upper Peninsula to raise awareness of the program.

As a veteran, Yates can be better able to connect to veterans who might otherwise be skeptical, Putnam said.

“There’s some apprehension sometimes,” he said. “Some folks don’t trust government. We have a lot of things that are out there as veteran benefits, just trying to build awareness … overall that can help a lot of our families and our people in our communities.”

Many younger veterans may not be aware they’re eligible for the program, Putnam said.

People can apply for snap benefits at newmibridges.michigan.gov. MSU partnered with the Food Bank Council of Michigan (FBCM) to offer navigation services for the program. To be connected, veterans can call (888) 544-8773 or visit https://www.fbcmich.org/.

Putnam also told the board about new MSU Extension educator Lauren Jescovitch, who works with commercial fisheries and water resources.

In other action, the board:

– Approved a resolution to support the UP Area agency on Aging’s 2022 annual implementation plan. The plan provides development and funding for programs helping older adults in the U.P.

– Approved a $9,341.25 memorandum of understanding with MSU Extension covering July to September 2021.

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