AUGUSTA, Maine — State Health and Human Services officials say the number of Mainers enrolled in the food stamps program has dropped below 200,000 for the first time in more than six years.
Since reaching a high of a little more than 255,000 three years ago, the number of people enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamp program, declined to just over 199,000 in August.
David Sorensen, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, says many of those who went off food stamps were able-bodied, 18- to 49-year-old childless adults who simply had to meet minimum criteria to stay on the program.
"There were previously over 13,000 able-bodied adults without children to look after who were of working age 18-49 and they needed to do something, something to give back to the community or to better themselves," Sorensen says.
Sorensen said food stamp compliance options for the childless adults included working for 20 hours per week, volunteering for about one hour per day or attending a class.