Maine DHHS Extends Nutrition Support for 88,000 Households

August 2, 2021

More than 88,000 Maine households will receive additional support to purchase food in August, after the Federal Government approved Maine’s request to offer families the maximum benefits allowed through the Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Following the end of the State of Civil Emergency, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services issued a Public Health Emergency (PDF)declaration that allows the State to continue taking advantage of Federal funding for COVID-19 Emergency Allotments through SNAP.

Through this option, Maine receives over $16 million per month in benefit supplements from the Federal Government to distribute to just over 88,000 households, based on household size. These dollars are immediately reinvested in local businesses, supporting their operations while assisting families in meeting their basic needs. According to a recent US Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) study on the multiplier impact of SNAP benefit increases, a $1 billion increase in SNAP benefits spurs $1.54 billion in economic activity. As such, the $16 million that will be distributed throughout the state is projected to have an actual impact of up to $24.54 million on Maine’s economy.

Individuals and families who receive SNAP benefits will continue to see maximum allotments in August, and Maine has the option to continue renewing this request to the Federal Government monthly.

Maine experiences a rate of food insecurity higher than the national average. Even prior to the pandemic, 12 percent of Maine households were food insecure, higher than the national average of 11 percent. Using data collected in May 2021, a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities study found that 13 percent of children in Maine weren’t eating enough because the household couldn’t afford sufficient food. This is by far the highest of our New England peers, with the next highest being Vermont and Rhode Island at 10 percent. The national measure was at 9 percent of households with children. Feeding America data show that Maine is sixth in the nation for projected food insecurity in 2021.

Maine DHHS has also supported families through the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program, which provides additional nutrition support for families of children who are eligible for free or reduced school lunch, but did not have access to school-based food programs because they were learning remotely on some or all school days due to the COVID-19 pandemic.