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Maine Officials Want Changes To Food Stamp Program

Maine Officials Want Changes To Food Stamp Program

EBT Blog
By: David Togan

Jun 26, 2016

Gov. Paul LePage along with other state officials are calling for changes to the food stamp program. The issue? Being able to use food stamps to purchase unhealthy items including soda and snacks. "We are tired of defending an embarrassing program when we have made requests of the federal government to support these common sense reforms, and they have put up roadblocks consistently,” state Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew said. If you are looking to obtain benefits, how to apply for Maine food stamps.

This month, Gov. Paul LePage wrote the Obama administration threatening to stop participating if the administration didn’t add restrictions on how recipients use their benefits. Specifically, LePage wants to “prohibit the purchase of candy and sugar-sweetened beverages with food stamp benefits in Maine.” If not, the governor wrote, “I will be pursuing options to implement reform unilaterally or cease Maine’s administration of the food stamp program altogether. You maintain such a broken program that I do not want my name attached to it.”

It is unclear if he has the right to do this. From a legal stand point, states administrate the food assistance program while the federal government funds the program. According to Robyn Merrill, executive director of Maine Equal Justice Partners, “There’s no precedent in a state actually pulling out and refusing to administer the program.” On top of that, state law requires Maine to administer a statewide food-assistance program that follows federal regulations. If Governor LePage moves forward with this, he will essentially end the Maine food stamp program, causing a devastating impact on the people who rely on the SNAP program, which plays an important role in stimulating the economy during a recession.

The USDA issued a statement in response to these calls for change:

"In response to questions from the USDA, Maine was unable to show that the state could properly evaluate the proposed demonstration project to determine it would have a meaningful impact on curbing obesity.”

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