AUGUSTA – There’s new controversy over the state’s move to cut off food stamp benefits for thousands of mainers including a fight to get those benefits back.
The state has now ended food stamp benefits for more than 9,000 residents since January.
It’s saving taxpayers more than 13 million dollars a year, but some say the new DHHS rule is leaving Mainers hungry.
“I was just so upset after i got the phone call a phone call from DHHS.” telling Melaina she was being dropped from the food stamp program. Her EBT card would stop getting money loaded on to it 224 dollars a month. Really left in the lurch here. “I can barely afford medications each month.” Melania, Former Food Stamp Recipient
We first told you Melaina’s story in January. Just days after her benefits ended. FSCQ bullets because she’s not working at least 20 hours a week, volunteering about an hour a day, or in a work-training program she’s not eligible for food stamp benefits. That’s a federal rule. For years, Maine asked for an exception to the rule because the economy was so bad. But this year, Maine and these 8 other states decided to stop asking for that waiver. Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming
We heard significant support throughout the state for the governor’s decision to not pursue that waiver. But democrats on the Health and Human Services Committee don’t support the decision. They just voted to require the state to take the waiver, and give food stamp benefits back to some of the Mainers who lost them.
“I’m disheartened there are those in the legislature who continue to believe the answer is creating more dependency and discouraging employment.” State Senator Anne Haskell is a democrat on the Health and Human Services Committee. “We really should be extending these benefits again she voted to support the bill which would eliminate work and volunteer requirements and reinstate food stamp benefits in rural parts of the state with high unemployment.”
“People are actively looking for work, anxious to work, willing to work if the jobs aren’t there should they go hungry?” The bill will now be considered by the House and Senate. Commissioner Mayhew says she’s optimistic it won’t pass and if it does is confident the governor will veto it. It important to note this rule only applies to healthy adults without children. Who are 18 to 49 years old.