(CBS Detroit) — Help is on the way for Michiganders needing to apply for food assistance.

The MI Benefits Center is launching a team of benefits specialists that will help with phone-based applications.

“We know that Michiganders in need often face multiple hurdles to access the support services that will help them feed their families,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “Our goal is to reduce and eliminate those hurdles as much as possible. This outreach effort is our latest effort in the past few years to ensure everyone who qualifies for support can gain access.”

Officials say the center will invest up to $1.2 million in the next year with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and philanthropic organizations.

Outreach specialists are projected to help process 5,000 food assistance applications through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), resulting in approximately $1.1 million a month –- or $13.2 million annually +– in additional direct benefits to families and $1.7 million in monthly economic stimulus for the state.

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The center is already mailing out letters to those who could be eligible for food assistance but not already enrolled in the program.

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The letters have instructions on what you need to do to sign up.

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