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Keith Srakocic, Associated Press
In this Friday, Feb. 3, 2012 photo, Linda Davis talks about her need for food stamps while sitting at her table at her home in the Pittsburgh suburb of Swissvale, Pa. Michigan and Pennsylvania are making it harder for thousands of residents to become eligible for food stamps by adopting new limits on how many cars people can own and how much cash they can have in the bank. Both states have scaled back their original limits amid criticism they were too harsh, but the changes still are expected to push thousands of families off the rolls.

HOWELL, Mich. — Michigan and Pennsylvania are putting new limits on families applying for food stamps.

Leaders say the limits are designed to help states target aid to those who need it most. But advocates for the poor argue the limits keep families from building up savings that can help get them off government assistance.

So-called "asset tests" mean families with more than one car or a certain amount of savings in the bank could become ineligible for food stamps. The states' moves come after more people sought food stamp help during the recession.

Most states don't have such tests or have dropped them. According to the Washington-based Corporation for Enterprise Development, 16 states eliminated their tests in the past 2 ½ years.