Food assistance benefits to decrease in November
Augusta — The expiration of the federal stimulus package, which temporarily increased funding to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, will reduce the monthly benefit provided through the food supplement program to all recipients beginning Nov. 1.
The SNAP benefit, still commonly referred to as food stamps, was temporarily increased in 2009 with the passage of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, often referred to as the stimulus package.
The SNAP, a federal program of the United States Department of Agriculture, is fully funded by the federal government and administered by the state. In Maine, more than $30 million in SNAP benefits are distributed each month.
Adding confusion to this benefit decrease is that in October, many SNAP recipients will actually see a small increase in benefits due to the annual cost of living adjustment. The Office for Family Independence is sending notifications to the more than 132,000 households that currently receive SNAP benefits to explain the changes.
The reduction in benefits will range from $1 a month for those who receive the minimum monthly benefit, to an average of around 5 percent for those who receive the maximum benefit. As an example, a family of four receiving the maximum benefit of $668 per month in October will see a $36 reduction. In Maine, the average monthly benefit for a family of four is $351.
OFI will be sending notifications to all SNAP recipients at the end of September to inform them of the changes. A mailing will follow in mid-October that will tell members the exact amount of the reduction beginning Nov.r 1.
People who need food right away can contact the Good Shepherd Food Bank at gsfb.org to locate the nearest food pantry. Another option is to either dial 211 or go to 211maine.org to locate the nearest food pantry or food distribution site.