Nearly half at risk are children, older Mainers, and people with disabilities
A Trump administration proposal to kick millions of Americans off the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) would threaten essential food benefits for more than 44,000 Maine people, nearly half of whom are children, older Mainers, and people with disabilities.
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) estimates that 44,068 SNAP participants in Maine would lose food benefits under the proposed rule change. Of those, 11,031 are children and 9,598 are over age 60 or have a disability.
In total, nearly 27 percent of all SNAP participants in Maine are at risk of losing benefits under the proposal, DHHS estimates.
The proposal also would jeopardize meals for schoolchildren, by eliminating automatic enrollment of children in SNAP families in free and reduced-cost school meal programs.
"This proposal would take healthy food off the plates of children, older Mainers, and people with disabilities while punishing hard-working families," said Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. "We urge the Administration to rescind this misguided proposal, which will hurt Maine people who are just trying to make ends meet."
Last week, Governor Janet Mills joined a coalition of Governors from 16 other states in sending a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to oppose the proposal, which would essentially eliminate Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility from SNAP. Under Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility, states enroll eligible applicants in SNAP if they already qualify for other benefits for low-income people, primarily Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). This allows states to tailor the program to their specific populations and to better coordinate SNAP with other public assistance programs. This now-threatened policy has resulted in more low-income families gaining access to critical food assistance, while also making SNAP less costly for states to administer.
The proposal penalizes families with incomes near the eligibility line by taking away their benefits if they experience even a small increase in wages, and similarly harms older people on fixed incomes who accumulate modest savings.
Maine DHHS is submitting comments to the federal government opposing the rule change. The federal government will accept comments on the proposed rule through September 23.