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DHR Says Data Used to Rank Maryland is Outdated

December 3, 2009

I got a call today from Nancy Lineman, communications director for the Maryland Department of Human Resources. She wanted to emphasize that the data in yesterday’s blog post about the state’s ranking for food-stamp utilization (41st, according to a report releases by Advocates for Children and Youth, based on data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture) is old. Yes, it is—the blog post pointed out that the data is from 2007. Unfortunately, it’s the newest data reported by USDA, which put out its periodic report on food-stamp usage across the nation on Nov. 24.

“It’s not reflective of where we are currently at, with regard to food stamps and enrollment,” Lineman says. “Certainly because of the downturn in the economy, there’s many more people enrolled and many more people that we are serving.”

In 2007, the USDA’s data says, 498,000 Maryland families were eligible for food stamps; between October 2008 and September 2009, Lineman says, there were 454,296 people per month receiving food-stamp benefits. In November 2009 alone, she says, 527,047 people received food stamps in the state.

As of this writing, Lineman didn’t have the number of families eligible for food stamps because, “it changes due to the economy.” She says that in 2007, the number of families receiving food stamps may have dropped, but that’s not because fewer people were able to receive them—she says it’s because the percentage of eligible families changes based on the poverty level.

Lineman says that the state is preparing to receive an award from the USDA for being the “most improved” state in terms of food-stamp outreach. The award comes with $1.1 million. Maryland also received this award in 2006. Lineman says the award money will be used to make improvements to the application process and to fund more food-stamps outreach. On Dec. 18, USDA officials will present the award to the state at a Baltimore City Family Investment Center—aka social services office.

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