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New Report Shows Hunger's Hold on Maryland

PHOTO:  According to the U-S Department of Agriculture, about 13-percent of people in Maryland reported being "food insecure" over the past three years. Photo credit: USDA.gov
PHOTO: According to the U-S Department of Agriculture, about 13-percent of people in Maryland reported being "food insecure" over the past three years. Photo credit: USDA.gov
September 5, 2013

BALTIMORE – Federal officials call it food security, and every year the government asks who can afford enough food for an active healthy life.

According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report, about 13 percent of people in Maryland reported being food insecure over the past three years.

Michael J. Wilson, director of Maryland Hunger Solutions, says the number of people in the state struggling to feed their families has increased over the past decade at a rate higher than the national average.

"We just see a continuing challenge in the economy for people to be able to provide for themselves and their families,” he says. “And that's only going to be resolved as the economy gets better."

Wilson says programs like SNAP, formerly called food stamps, and before-school and after-school meals are making a big difference, but they often don't go far enough.

He adds it's critical that lawmakers at the state and federal level protect food assistance programs, because hunger has a hold on Maryland that doesn't appear to be letting up.

"If one in eight households is insecure, and that's primarily going to be in cities and in rural areas, more than suburban areas,” he says, “there are a lot of people each one of us knows who is dealing with this issue."

Anti-hunger groups are concerned the problem will get worse as Congress weighs steep cuts to SNAP funding as part of the Farm Bill.

Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, says everyone receiving SNAP benefits will see a reduction in November as a Recovery Act boost to the program expires.

"Benefits are going to go down on November 1st by $29 a month for a household of three,” he explains. “More than $300 a year, which is huge if you're living on 8, 10, 12, $14,000 a year."

Alison Burns, Public News Service - MD