Cutting programs to help the poor doesn’t eliminate poverty

The LePage administration likes to tout how it has reduced the number of people who receive social services in Maine. If fewer people get government help, the thinking goes, the problems that caused their need for help also have been magically eliminated.

Data show this isn’t true.

Take hunger. A new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that the percentage of people in Maine who don’t have enough food has risen. In the Pine Tree State, 16.4 percent of households reported being food insecure, on average, during 2014-16. During the previous three-year period, 2013-15, 15.8 percent of households reported being food insecure. Nationally, the percentage of food insecure households dropped from 13.7 percent to 13 percent in that time, continuing a downward trend. Meanwhile, Maine has risen two spots to become the 7th most food-insecure state.

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