Last week, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced two updates relating to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) aimed at supporting working families.

Beginning March 1, a supplemental benefit for low-income working families will increase from $15 to $50 per month for approximately 13,000 working families receiving SNAP benefits. DHHS will use existing unspent Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block

Grant funds to increase the Working Families Supplement benefit, a monthly benefit added to a SNAP participant’s electronic benefit transaction card. It is provided to participants who work at least 30 hours a week, or 20 hours if they have a child under the age of 6 and qualify for SNAP benefits. The increase was authorized by the Maine State Legislature in 2011, and, according to DHHS, there are

sufficient TANF funds to support the $5.7 million annual cost of the change.

DHHS also announced that individuals and families who participate in SNAP will receive their March benefits early. In response to last month’s federal government shutdown, SNAP participants received their February allotment early, on January 17. Now Maine participants who were scheduled to receive a SNAP benefit between March 10 and 14 will receive it early, on March 3. They will not receive another allotment in March.

“Too many Maine families who receive SNAP and TANF are still going hungry because their level of aid is simply inadequate,” said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew about the changes. “Putting this existing funding to use will help provide the resources they need to feed themselves, take care of their basic level of needs, and position themselves to get to work.”