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Maryland Ranks 41st in food-stamp utilization

December 2, 2009
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According to the Baltimore-based nonprofit organization Advocates for Children and Youth, the number of eligible families taking advantage of food stamps in Maryland has dropped. According to the Advocates for Children and Youth, only 59 percent of Marylanders who are eligible for the food stamp program actually receive food stamps. The national utilization rate is 66 percent.

The data used to determine Maryland’s food stamp utilization rate (which is pretty dismal, actually—our state’s utilization rate ranks 41st in the nation) comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2009 report called Reaching Those in Need. Though the report is new, the data is from 2007, the most recent year for which food-stamp utilization data is available.

According to USDA data, in 2006, Maryland’s food-stamp utilization rate had reached a high of 62 percent, up from 46 percent in 2002. By 2007, the rate had dropped down to 59 percent.

The state with the highest percentage of eligible families using food stamps was Missouri, which boasts a 100 percent participation rate, according to the USDA. The lowest was Wyoming, where only 47 percent of eligible families are using food stamps.

Advocates for Children and Youth is encouraging Maryland to boost the number of families enrolled in its food stamp program by making the application process easier and increasing outreach and education about the food stamp program.

Those efforts would certainly bring more people in the doors to apply for food stamps and other social services. Now if only the state’s social services offices had enough staff to handle growing need.

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