Food Bank Council of Michigan Publishes Standard for Detroit Families to Achieve Self-sufficiency

DETROIT, Mich. – How much does a family of four need to earn in Detroit to meet their basic needs? The 2017 Self-Sufficiency Standard commissioned by the Food Bank Council of Michigan has the answer.

The Standard provides measures to determine the amount of income a working family must earn to meet basic needs, including housing, child care, food, health care, transportation, miscellaneous expenses and taxes. The initiative sets standards for individuals and families in each of Michigan’s 83 countries. It ensures accurate data is available to enable Michigan residents to make progress toward economic security and financial independence. 

The vast majority of southeast Michigan counties are in the highest bracket of hourly self-sufficiency wages at $18-22.99 per hour. Included counties are Livingston, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw, Wayne, Lenawee and Monroe.

“The Standard is a very effective tool that’s used to improve and secure access to programs and resources necessary to families in southeast Michigan counties,” said Gerry Brisson, president, Gleaners Community Food Bank.

The Standard influences policies and programs for low-income workers. It evaluates proposed policy changes, targets resources, assists grant makers, and helps policymakers and legislators create programs for community members to reach self-sufficiency.

Results vary based on family type. For families with young children, the cost of housing and child care make up nearly half of a family’s budget. The Standard also varies based on geographic location.

“We now have a reliable tool to help individuals and families achieve economic security,” said Dr. Phil Knight, executive director, Food Bank Council of Michigan. “It is now incumbent upon all of us to put policy and practices in place across Michigan.”

The Michigan Standard requires both reducing costs and raising incomes. Reducing costs ensures struggling families have access to work supports, such as child care assistance, food benefits and the Earned Income Tax Credit. Work supports can drastically affect the speed at which a family or individual becomes self-sufficient even at the minimum wage.

Raising incomes means enhancing skills as well as increasing jobs with self-sufficient wages and career potential. The greatest key in raising incomes is adjustments in public policies, such as paid sick and family/medical leave.

The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Michigan shows that although incomes may fall above the federal measure of poverty, they are significantly lower than what is necessary to meet families’ and individuals’ basic needs.

For more information about the Self-Sufficiency Standard, visit


Founded in 1984, the Food Bank Council of Michigan was created to implement a unified strategy to address and alleviate hunger statewide. FBCM works with its regional food banks and over 2,800 hunger relief agencies, private companies, farmers, state and federal officials, and other allies to make sure no Michigander goes without food. For more information about the Food Bank Council of Michigan, visit or call 517.485.1202.