Report: 1 in 9 Marylanders rely on federal programs to avoid food insecurity
Monday, October 30, 2023
A new report looking at hunger in Maryland showed the role federal nutrition programs play in supporting many residents, as well as the state's food system.
The nonprofit Maryland Hunger Solutions recently released its Maryland Hunger Profiles report for 2023, which in addition to looking at the state at large, also examined county-level data. The report found there are more than 650,000 Marylanders relying on Supplemental Nutritional Assistance each month, and more than half of students in the state are enrolled to receive free or reduced-price meals.
Michael J. Wilson, director of Maryland Hunger Solutions, said the report reveals how hunger is prevalent in many parts of the state.
"There is hunger and poverty in every part of our state," Wilson pointed out. "Not just in urban Baltimore but in suburban parts of the state and in rural parts of the state, that there are people who use the SNAP program, whether it's in rural Allegheny County or in urban and wealthy Howard County."
He explained rising costs for food and housing are contributing to food insecurity in Maryland.
The report also looked at participation in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, and estimated statewide only 75% of eligible people are enrolled and in some counties, the number falls below 70%. Wilson noted participation in the programs helps support the entire food economy.
"We also preserve the jobs and the economy all along from the farmers to the retailers," Wilson emphasized. "That's a critically important thing for us to recognize. Not just think about, 'oh, we're helping Mrs. Jones'. But how are we helping Mrs. Jones have the resources so that she puts money back into the system."
When pandemic-era supports expired in March, SNAP benefits in Maryland fell back to an average of $6 per person per day.
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