The Governor Threatens to Stop Administering SNAP in Maine Putting the Health of Maine People and the Economy at Risk
Recently Governor LePage threatened to stop administering the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) because the federal government denied his request for a waiver to prohibit the purchase of certain items with SNAP dollars.
Fortunately, Maine has a law requiring the state to administer the program (See 22 MRSA §3104). But the threat alone is outrageous and irresponsible. By threatening to put a stop to food assistance in Maine, the governor has instilled panic in the hearts of people with low income who rely on this support – jeopardizing Maine’s economy and the ability of thousands of Mainers, mostly elderly, children and people with disabilities to put food on the table.
Here are some relevant facts:
Maine currently ranks third worst in the country for serious hunger as tens of thousands of low-income people in the state have lost access to necessary food assistance.
More than 190,000 people in Maine relied on SNAP to help put food on the table in March, 2016. This represents 14% of the population. Eliminating SNAP would push people deeper into poverty and deny them access to the nutrition they need.
Maine’s most vulnerable populations would suffer the most:
34% of SNAP households include children who need the program for their healthy growth and development.
33% of SNAP households have non-elderly members with disabilities who rely on SNAP to make ends meet.
24% of SNAP households have seniors who could be forced to choose between food and medicine.
SNAP has proven effective in keeping or lifting people out of poverty while at the same time fueling local economies. More than 1,500 retailers across Maine participate in SNAP program, which provides nearly $300 million in federal funds to Maine annually.
Research also shows that SNAP reduces food insecurity, improves dietary quality, protects against obesity and improves health, especially among children.
For all of these reasons, Maine Equal Justice will be monitoring this issue closely to ensure that the State continues to administer SNAP in accordance with state law.