Low-income residents of Maine will see an increase in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits – also known as food stamps – starting next month.
This past Wednesday, Jane Lambrew, who serves as the commissioner of Health and Human Services, announced a major change to Maine's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that will positively affect the lives of thousands of the state's low-income families. According to the announcement, benefits for low-income working families is slated to nearly triple in funding.
"Too many Maine families who receive SNAP and TANF are still going hungry because their level of aid is simply inadequate. Putting this existing funding to use will help provide the resources they need to feed themselves, take care of their basic level of need, and position themselves to get to work," Lambrew said in a statement regarding the increase.
Currently, families in the state of Maine working 30 hours or those who work 20 hours with small child are entitled to a SNAP Working Families Supplement benefit of about $15. As of March 1, 2019, the increase changes will take effect and raise that benefit from $15 to $50, which is a 230 percent increase.
According to Central Main, there are roughly 13,000 participants in the SNAP program that will qualify and benefit from this increase.
The news outlet also reports that the annual cost of this increase is estimated to be about $5.7 million. The increased cost is supposedly being covered by a fund surplus currently being held by another federal assistance program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).The recent jump is a change in policy created by Maine's newest mayoral administration. Governor Janet Mills is making moves to guide the state away from the policies maintained by the state's former governor, Paul LePage.
Portland Press Herald reports that the former mayor put a large amount of priority on decreasing the number of people receiving welfare benefits. Over the course of his term in office, LePage managed to get TANF recipients reduced to roughly one-third of what it was when he started. He also got SNAP benefits down by roughly 50 percent of what it had been during his first year in office.
These decreases weren't a result of improved livelihood, but rather an imposed 60-month cap on TANF benefits, stricter eligibility rules, and the former mayor's refusal to implement programs and benefit increases.Mills hopes to effectively move away from the current policies that she believes are handicapping the low-income residents of Maine. She also hopes to also expand Medicaid and create an administration that is less critical of welfare recipients.
As far as the recent SNAP increase is concerned, Central Maine reports that Mills hopes giving people the leg up they need will position them to start building better lives for their families.