Nearly 250,000 Mainers, Including More than 100,000 Kids, Face Food Assistance Cuts Beginning Today

A family of three will lose 16 meals per month under SNAP reductions; an additional $40 billion in federal cuts is also pending

Augusta, Maine (Friday, November 1, 2013) Nearly a quarter of a million struggling Mainers, including more than 100,000 children, who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) benefits, will suffer a substantial reduction in their food assistance. A modest boost in SNAP benefits, included in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to strengthen the economy and ease hardship, ends today. A Maine family of three will lose $29, equivalent to 16 meals, each month. 

“This small increase in SNAP benefits has provided an important stepping stone for almost a quarter of a million struggling families in Maine during the deep economic recession and long recovery, empowering them to keep food on the table as they seek employment, send their children off to school, and get themselves back on their feet,” stated Donna Yellen of Preble Street, who leads Maine’s Hunger Initiative.
“This is a serious loss for families whose benefits, after this cut, will average less than $1.40 per person per meal,” said Maine Center for Economic Policy analyst Jody Harris. “There is even worse news in the pipeline. The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed an additional $40 billion in SNAP cuts, which, if enacted, would come on top of the cuts taking effect today.”
In addition to helping to feed hungry families, SNAP is one of the fastest, most effective ways to stimulate a weak economy. Every $1 increase in SNAP benefits generates about $1.70 in economic activity. Because of this cut, Maine businesses will lose $44 million in spending from November 2013 through September 2014.

The cuts passed in the House would potentially eliminate assistance for 27,000 people in Maine and nearly 4 million nationwide. The legislation would provide strong financial incentives for states to reduce their caseloads, making it significantly harder for families to put food on the table.
“SNAP has been a powerful tool in helping to keep families out of poverty during the long economic recession and recovery,” said Harris. “The majority of SNAP recipients who are able do work, but don’t earn enough to support themselves and their families. And for those who can’t work because of age or disability or who are desperately seeking a job, SNAP keeps them afloat. Congress should not further reduce this already modest assistance making it harder for struggling families to put food on the table.”
Further information on the upcoming cuts can be found at: SNAP Benefits Will Be Cut for All Participants in November 2013, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.