AUGUSTA – Maine health and human services officials say the number of state residents enrolled in the food stamps program has dropped below 200,000 for the first time in more than six years.

The state Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Family Independence says 199,157 people were enrolled in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, in September. There were slightly fewer people receiving food stamps in February 2009. Officials say the figure is a decline from a high of 255,663 in February 2012.

State officials say one explanation for the drop is that Maine’s unemployment rate has fallen from 8.3 percent in July 2009 to 4.5 percent in August of this year.

There were 155,492 Maine residents receiving food stamps in January 2005.

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