Statement attributed to Michael J. Wilson, director, Maryland Hunger Solutions
BALTIMORE, March 12, 2019 — HB 957, a bill introduced by Del. Neil Parrott in the General Assembly, would restrict access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, known as the Food Supplement Program in Maryland) for an estimated 30,000 Marylanders. HB 957 would force every jurisdiction in the state to limit certain unemployed and underemployed SNAP recipients to receiving benefits for just three months in a three-year period.
This law would increase hunger and poverty in our state.
Since 1996, waivers on time limits (three months in a three-year period) for SNAP benefits have been approved by the USDA in areas with high unemployment and in areas where there simply aren’t enough jobs. These waivers have been used by state governments across the country, including Maryland, and have proven a vital protection for those who struggle with the combined challenges of hunger and unemployment.
Since the Great Recession, the number of waivers has decreased, and Maryland, like many other states, no longer has a statewide waiver. Yet, even as the economy has improved, we know that it has not improved for everyone. The Maryland Department of Human Services applied for and has received waivers for areas in the state with high unemployment and few available jobs. These waivers have been indispensable in keeping people from going hungry and slipping further into poverty.
Let us be clear — HB 957 does not assist the state with outreach, education, or connections to employment and training. It simply says that the state of Maryland should not use the waivers available under federal law, and would force every jurisdiction to impose undue burdens on residents, regardless of the level of unemployment or economic hardship. In short, HB 957 would severely limit the state’s authority to safeguard the economic and nutritional well-being of our poorest residents.
Maryland Hunger Solutions, an initiative of the Food Research & Action Center, works to end hunger and improve the nutrition, health, and well-being of children and families in Maryland.