Hunger Takes the Spotlight during the Holidays
The holiday season is a time for giving: giving thanks for what you have and giving to those in need. This is undoubtedly the most popular time of year for food drives. While donating non-perishable items to a food bank or time to a soup kitchen provides vital support for emergency programs, it is important to remember that hunger persists throughout the year.
Maryland DHR Involved in Food Stamp Lawsuit
A Maryland judged ruled December 10 that the state government is failing to provide food stamps and other public benefits as promptly as federal and state law requires. The lawsuit was filed in April by the Public Justice Center, the Homeless Persons Representation Project and other advocates for the poor, on behalf of a woman in Baltimore County who waited more than 60 days for food stamps. The case went to trial last week in a Baltimore Circuit Court and brought attention to an agency that is having trouble meeting the increased demand caused by the downturn in the economy, while dealing with a loss of hundreds of employees that have not been replaced due to a hiring freeze. The judge gave the department 45 days to provide a plan to correct the problems and a year to bring the agency into full compliance. More about this case can be found in the News section below.
Reaching Those in Need: State Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Participation Rates in 2007
USDA has recently released the 2007 participation rates for the Food Supplement Program(pdf). The data shows that in 2007, 59% of people in Maryland who were eligible for benefits participated in the program. The participation decreased from a rate of 62% in 2006, giving Maryland a ranking of 41st in the country.
The New York Times recently published an interactive map of food stamp usage across the country.
Maryland Food Supplement Program Caseload: County Data – November 2009
Despite the low participation rates reported for Maryland in 2007 by the USDA, the caseload for the Food Supplement (formerly Food Stamp) program continues to increase. In November 2009 the Food Supplement Program caseload, at 526,940 persons, was up over the month by 4,715 people (.9 percent increase) and over November 2008 by 115,078 people (27.9 percent increase). This is an impressive increase, given that November was a “short month” with only 16 working days, ending on November 24. In November 2009 the largest increase in people in the Food Supplement Program in Maryland over the last year took place in Queen Anne’s, Calvert, and Frederick Counties. Download the data.
USDA Authorizes States to Provide SNAP (formerly Food Stamp) Benefits to Children during Pandemic Emergency School Closings
In November 2009, USDA announced a state option to provide benefits to children certified for free or reduced price school lunches whose schools are closed for at least 5 consecutive days during a pandemic emergency designation. For more information on the Pandemic Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (P-SNAP), read the USDA P-SNAP memorandum(pdf).
CDC Releases County-Level Estimates of Obesity and Diabetes among Adults
During the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States. Similarly, diabetes rates have been on the rise. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent data, 26% of Marylanders are obese and 7.8% have been diagnosed with diabetes. In terms of the rate of diabetes and obesity among adults, Montgomery is the healthiest county in Maryland while Somerset has the highest prevalence. Visit the CDC site to see how your county compares.