November 8, 2023
Maryland Hunger Solutions is excited to announce the publication of the 2023 Maryland Hunger Profiles, a comprehensive resource, featuring the latest participation data for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), K–12 child nutrition programs, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). The report, updated by Maryland Hunger Solutions annually, provides information at the state and county level. Each hunger profile also contains key demographic data points, including population, median household income, and percentage of the population living below the Federal Poverty Level.
Key findings from this year’s report include:
- In Maryland, approximately one out of every nine residents participate in SNAP, with an average of around 660,000 residents relying on the program monthly.
- Over half of all Maryland students were enrolled to receive free school meals in school year 2022–2023.
- 75 percent of eligible people in Maryland are enrolled in WIC, but 11 counties have enrollment rates below 70 percent.
This year has been important for the federal nutrition programs in Maryland and across the U.S. The Fiscal Year 0223 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which was signed into law last December, created a permanent Summer EBT program but ended the SNAP Emergency Allotments (EAs) that had been in effect since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. SNAP EAs expired in February 2023 in Maryland, creating a dramatic hunger cliff in which SNAP households’ monthly benefits dropped by an average of $82 a month, while some older adults saw their benefits drop from $281 to $23 a month. This has increased demand for emergency food resources, such as food pantries and other federal nutrition programs such as WIC.
Additionally, due to the ending of the national Public Health Emergency this past May and the passage of the federal Fiscal Responsibility Act to raise the debt ceiling in June, further changes to SNAP have been enacted, including the resumption of time limits for certain SNAP households. As the data in our Hunger Profiles demonstrate, now more than ever, we need to protect and strengthen SNAP and ensure participants in Maryland are receiving adequate benefits. Adequate benefits would ensure more participants have access to healthy, affordable food, while SNAP dollars stimulate our local economy.
In addition to changes to SNAP this year, the 2022–2023 school year saw a return to a tiered payment system in Maryland schools, in which students once again were required to pay for their lunches if they did not qualify for free school lunch or did not attend a school or district that adopted the Community Eligibility Provision. This was after two school years (2020– 2021 and 2021–2022) in which all Maryland K–12 students received free school meals in recognition of the pandemic. Maryland Hunger Solutions is continuing to push for universal free school meals through the Maryland legislative process. Free school meals would eliminate barriers and relieve financial burdens on families and school administration staff.
These policy changes have impacted the overall food system. As Maryland Hunger Solutions advocates for future policies to protect and strengthen SNAP, school and out-of-school time meals, and WIC, anti-hunger advocates must have the latest data on participation trends.
The Maryland Hunger Profiles will allow policymakers, partners, and the public to understand the state of hunger within Maryland as a whole and each of our counties, as well as to inform ongoing political and strategic conversations about how to ensure that all Marylanders have consistent and adequate access to food. If you have any questions, please contact Elisabet Eppes at email@example.com.