“The LePage administration appears to be trying to solve the federal deficit at the state level,” said MECEP Associate Director Jody Harris. “(It) doesn’t agree with applying for federal grants because it impacts federal taxes. But Mainers pay federal taxes, too, so why shouldn’t they benefit?”
Harris noted that the LePage administration’s effort to reduce the number of Mainers participating in the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has heightened the stigma around food stamps, and she fears it may keep some seniors from seeking the benefit as the need grows.
The monthly average number of Mainers receiving food stamps in recent years dropped by 41,291 people, or 18 percent, from 230,536 in 2014 to 189,245 in 2016, according to a 2017 federal report.
About 28,700 Maine seniors participated in SNAP in 2015 and 46 percent of Maine households that receive SNAP benefits include a senior or a person with a disability, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a progressive think tank.
“Twenty-five percent of SNAP benefits go to Mainers over age 60 and we expect that number to grow as the state’s older population grows,” Harris said.