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1 in 5 Children in Maryland Experience Food Insecurity

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New food-stamp regulations are going into effect in Maryland next month, and food pantries may not be able to handle the influx. (Virginia Carter)
New food-stamp regulations are going into effect in Maryland next month, and food pantries may not be able to handle the influx. (Virginia Carter)
March 14, 2016

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - People age 18 to 49 who are considered able-bodied adults with no dependents will lose SNAP benefits on April 1 unless they meet new federal requirements.

They have to work at least 20 hours a week, be in school or participate in a volunteer or job-training program.

Beth Martino, president and chief executive of the Maryland Food Bank, said three quarters of a million people in Maryland don't have enough to eat, and one in five is a child. She said the numbers are pretty severe.

"As you drive down the street on your way home, count every eighth home," she said. "That's how many people in a state that is as wealthy as ours may not know where their next meal is coming from."

Martino said food pantries have a hard time keeping up with the growing number of people in the state who don't know where their next meal will come from.

Ed Bolen, senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said Maryland is requesting more time from the federal government for counties that still struggle with high jobless numbers.

"I certainly hope there's lots of jobs in those areas of high unemployment, but generally those two things don't exist in the same place at the same time," he said. "So, it could be tough for some folks in the state where they have high unemployment but the time limit is still coming back into effect."

It's all part of federal rules passed in 1996, but many states, Maryland included, got a waiver because of high unemployment in some counties. But even with federal help, Martino said, many people are hungry.

"They have to make a full-time job out of finding food," she said, "and SNAP benefits - or any kind of state or federal assistance - is usually just one piece of a patchwork of things that they've put together to help them get through the month."

SNAP, which stands for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly was known as food stamps.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD