Inside Augusta

9,000 Fewer Mainers on Food Stamps

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According to Governor LePage’s administration, 9,000 fewer Mainers have been using SNAP benefits, commonly called food stamps, since last year when it began enforcing volunteer and work requirements.

Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson David Sorenson told the Associated Press that roughly 12,000 able-bodied and childless adults were in the program at the end of last year, but that figure has since dropped this month to 2,680.

Before last year, Maine had waived the federal requirement that mandates that adults without disabilities or children work or volunteer at least 20 hours per week in order to receive food stamps.

But in July of 2014, Governor LePage announced that Maine would not seek another federal waiver, and would be fully enforcing the work requirement.

“We must continue to do all that we can to eliminate generational poverty and get people back to work,” LePage said in a statement at the time. “We must protect our limited resources for those who are truly in need and who are doing all they can to be self-sufficient.”

In 2013, Maine had one of the highest food stamp participation rates in the country, and was behind only Oregon and Mississippi in percentage of people utilizing the program.

But according to the most recent data from the USDA, Maine had about 211,513 people participating in the food stamp program in December 2014, which is a more than 10% decrease from December 2013.

This most recent drop of 9,000 participants represents another 4.25% decrease in the Maine program’s overall size.

A 2012 Rasmussen national poll found that while 83% of adults supported a work requirement for welfare recipients, only 7% flat-out opposed it.

About Patrick Marvin

Patrick Marvin is a former Policy Analyst for The Maine Heritage Policy Center. He holds a Masters Degree from the University of New Hampshire, and has an extensive background in analysis and research.

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