According to recently released data from the U.S.D.A, Maine is leading the nation with its reduction in the number of individuals who are utilizing the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as the food stamp program.
Between April 2014 and April 2015, 12.4% fewer individuals participated in the food stamp program in Maine, the highest percent reduction of any state in that time frame.
Maine’s 12.4% reduction represents a decrease of approximately 28,000 individuals who are no longer enrolled in the program which provides food assistance to low-income people living in the U.S. As a result of this decrease, Maine has fallen from 12th to 21st among all states with regards to the percent of its population using food stamps.
A considerable amount of Maine’s food stamp reduction is due to Governor Paul LePage’s decision to enforce volunteer and work requirements for adults without disabilities or children who are participating in the program. Prior to last year, Maine had received a waiver from the federal government for this requirement, but in July 2014, LePage announced that he would not longer be applying for the federal waiver.
By forcing childless and able-bodied adults to work 20 hours per week, or volunteer or take job training courses just 6 hours per week, Maine has reduced its food stamp program enrollment by nearly 9,500 individuals since this past January.
“We must continue to do all that we can to eliminate generational poverty and get people back to work,” said LePage when announcing he would enforce the work requirements. “We must protect our limited resources for those who are truly in need and who are doing all they can to be self-sufficient.”
According to a 2012 Rasmussen national poll, roughly 83% of adults nationwide supported a work requirement for welfare, and only 7% opposed it.
Maine is still behind most of its New England peers with regards to percent of population utilizing the food stamp program. Roughly 15.1% of all Mainers are still on food stamps, which is less than only Rhode Island (16.55%) and ahead of Vermont (13.5%), Connecticut (12.3%), Massachusetts (11.4%) and New Hampshire (8.1%)