In my lifetime, hunger was a devastating problem in many parts of this country. The Food Stamp program saved lives by providing vital nutrition for families and single people who had fallen on hard times — nutrition that allowed them to learn in school, heal from illness and injury, hang on between jobs, and not have to choose between food, medicine, and paying the light bill.

In the past eight years in Maine, that food safety net has been failing. People are no longer protecting neighbors from hunger, especially in rural areas, where jobs continue to be scarce, and poor health and disability stack the deck against them.

The present federal farm bill, which Rep. Bruce Poliquin supports, will make it more difficult to qualify for food stamps by adding much-touted work requirements, supposedly to reduce dependency. The real data shows the work requirements in Maine have not resulted in less need for help. Hunger in Maine is at a record high. Without sufficient resources for training and job creation, Mainers have had to give up and go hungry. The result is “savings” that are deeply immoral and false. It will get more and more expensive as nutrition-based illness rises and the capacity to sustain work keeps declining in a vicious cycle. Morally, we will continue to be diminished as we are judged by our willingness to care for those in need.

I hope that Maine’s representatives in the House and Senate in Washington will reject the present farm bill.

Peg Hoffman, Lewiston


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