Senate Democratic Leader Justin Alfond is urging Gov. Paul LePage to retract his threat to eliminate the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in Maine because of a disagreement he’s having with the federal government.

Food-insecure Mainers are caught in the middle of Gov. LePage’s latest spat with the USDA, which funds and manages the SNAP program, also known as food stamps.

The USDA has rejected the governor’s request to ban the use of SNAP benefits to purchase sugary drinks and snacks, citing “significant concerns” with the plan as proposed by the governor.  In response, Gov. LePage has said that if he does not get his way, he will scuttle the program altogether, leaving low-income Mainers at even greater risk for hunger.

“Food is a basic necessity of life, and Gov. LePage is threatening to take it away from more than 195,000 food-insecure Mainers because of yet another fight he’s picked with the federal government,” said Sen. Alfond, of Portland. “This latest temper tantrum threatens to punish the very people it purports to help. I’d ask the governor this: How does taking food off the tables of hungry Maine families support healthy eating habits?”

“The governor is free to pick as many political fights with the federal government, the Legislature and other perceived rivals as he wants. But he shouldn’t use real Maine families, dealing with real hunger, as props in his political theater,” Alfond said.

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