The number of Maine households that experience food insecurity has increased, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report released this week. Maine now ranks 7th worst in the country for food insecurity, falling from its previous position as 9th worst.
More than 16 percent of households have limited access to adequate food. That’s higher than the national average of 12 percent, which has been on a downward trend.
Chris Hastedt of Maine Equal Justice Partners says Maine is losing ground compared to other states due to cuts to the SNAP program, which used to be known as food stamps.
“And I think that’s the most significant factor that’s caused us to sort of buck this national trend of decreasing hunger,” she says. “When it comes to what they call very low food security — that’s real hunger — we are third worst in the nation. And we’ve been stuck there for, I think, the last two or three years.”
Hastedt says she’s concerned the problem will get worse, especially because of efforts by some in Congress to make federal cuts to the SNAP program.