More than 6,000 Maine residents on welfare are reportedly no longer receiving food stamps.
According to News 4 San Antonio, in October, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that all able-bodied adults without dependents would either have to work, volunteer twenty hours per week or enroll in an employment training program to receive food stamps.
Maine and many other states asked for an exemption from this law in 2008 when the recession hit and unemployment skyrocketed. However, this year Maine has decided to reinstate the law.
Governor Paul LePaige stated, “We must continue to do all that we can to eliminate generational poverty and get people back to work. We must protect our limited resources for those who are truly in need and who are doing all they can to be self-sufficient.”
According to DHHS, more than 6,500 Maine residents stopped receiving food stamps on January 1. DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew said, “This is complying with federal requirements, but it's also about Governor LePage's focus on how do we make this about prosperity? How do we focus on lifting people out of poverty so they can benefit from this economy.”
A woman named Melaina was particularly disturbed by the news. She said, “I was just so upset after I got the phone call. It was a cushion especially for me because I have dietary restrictions; I have a lot of them, and the food is very expensive.” She had been receiving $224 per month.
Commissioner Mayhew stands by the decision, but also realizes that DHHS still needs to help people in need. She explained, "To chart a course that is about aligning our limited resources with our core priorities - our elderly, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and people with mental illness.”
The federal food stamp law is limited to three months in a three year period for able-bodied adults who aren’t working, volunteering or part of an employment training program. People under the age of 18 and over 50 are excluded from that law.