I applaud the Portland Press Herald for its recent editorial “Our View: On food stamps, don’t follow Maine’s example” (April 30). The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program restrictions proposed in the House’s Farm Bill would harm Maine families. I urge Maine’s congressional delegation to reject these changes.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about 200,000 Mainers lack consistent access to food. Maine’s food-insecurity rate ranks seventh nationally, and more than one in five Maine kids is food insecure. Most of these families rely on SNAP to put food on tables.

The proposed bill limits waivers, creates a benefits cliff and applies work requirements to individuals over 50 and parents of school-aged children. These restrictions were modeled on Maine policy, but as the Maine Center for Economic Policy concludes, “Maine’s approach has been a colossal failure.”

Restricting benefits does not foster employment, as most SNAP recipients are already working. A recent USDA report states that 79 percent of Maine families receiving SNAP benefits were considered “working poor.” For many grappling with the increasing cost of living, SNAP provides an essential lifeline. Requiring more parents to work would weaken families, and enforcing stricter time limits would undermine efforts of those seeking employment.

But this isn’t just about basic compassion: SNAP saves money. Malnutrition erodes health, which increases health care costs. A recent study in JAMA: Internal Medicine concluded, “SNAP enrollment is associated with reduced health care spending among low-income American adults.” Restricting this safety net would have dire consequences.

The proposed bill would hurt Maine families, reduce flexibility, increase costs and worsen hunger. I implore Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King to continue the historically bipartisan support for SNAP in the Senate proposal. Trying to save funds in the short term will cost us dearly down the road. And a country that aspires to be great cannot let its own people starve.

Brian Arundel


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