FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jen Adach, firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 986-2200 x3018
Baltimore, Md. – January 24, 2011 – More than 70 individuals are joining Maryland Hunger Solutions Director Cathy Demeroto in taking the Food Stamp Challenge during the week of January 24 – 31. Participants in the Challenge pledge to use the average food stamp benefit for an individual – $30 a week in Maryland – as their total budget for groceries for the seven days. Challenge takers in Maryland include state legislators, representatives from the Governor’s Office, officials from various state agencies, and leaders from the nonprofit community.
Demeroto will begin her Challenge on Monday, January 24 by shopping with Maryland Secretary of Aging Gloria Gary Lawlah at a Giant Store in Marlow Heights, Maryland (4119 Branch Avenue, Marlow Heights, MD 20748).
The Food Stamp Challenge gives participants a view of what life can be like for millions of low-income Americans. Challenge participants find they are forced to make difficult food shopping choices, and often realize how difficult it is to avoid hunger, afford nutritious foods, and stay healthy. “While living on a food stamp budget for just a week cannot come close to the struggles encountered by low-income families week after week and month after month, it does provide those who take the Challenge with a new perspective and greater understanding,” said Demeroto. “We hope to shed a light on the challenges facing many in our state and the need to provide for the needs of low-income Marylanders.”
Demeroto noted that January 21st marked the fiftieth anniversary of the birth of the modern food stamp program. On January 21, 1961, President John F. Kennedy issued his first Executive Order which led to the creation of a pilot Food Stamp Program in West Virginia.
As households throughout Maryland continue to face economic struggles, the Food Supplement Program serves as a critical resource. According to data collected by Gallup and analyzed by the Food Research and Action Center, one in seven Marylanders reported in the first half of 2010 that they had a difficult time affording food at some point in the previous twelve months.
Food stamps (known in Maryland as the Food Supplement Program) help millions of low-income people purchase needed food each month. Eligibility is based on income and assets depending on household size. In November 2010, 643,651 Maryland residents received Food Supplement Program benefits, a 22 percent increase over the previous year and more than double the number of participants in November 2005.
In addition to helping families make ends meet, food stamps also give back to a state’s economy. For every $5 in food stamps that are used in grocery stores or at local farmers’ markets, close to $10 is generated in local economic activity.
Demeroto and others taking the Challenge will be documenting their experiences on Maryland Hunger Solutions’ Challenge Diary.
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Maryland Hunger Solutions is the lead research, public education, and advocacy group in Maryland, dedicated to using public programs to end hunger in Maryland. Maryland Hunger Solutions is an initiative of the Food Research and Action Center.