September is Hunger Action Month. This means summer is ending, the fall season is beginning and holidays are coming upon us faster than we may be prepared for.

For many Mainers, this is a difficult time of year, particularly when food is concerned. People in too many households have to skip meals, or take other steps to eat less because they don’t have enough money for food. Unfortunately, Maine has the third highest rate of hunger in the nation.

As an AmeriCorps VISTA member in partnership with AARP Foundation and AARP Maine, I have seen firsthand the impact hunger has on the people in this state. SNAP, also known as food stamps, is one of the country’s most effective tools to address hunger and poverty.

In 2011, SNAP kept 4.7 million people out of poverty, including 2.1 million children. In Maine, every SNAP dollar that is spent brings $1.79 into the local community, which helps support local farmers and grocers. In 2012, more than $376 million came in to our state as a result of this critical nutrition assistance.

SNAP is an excellent resource for low-income families who struggle to put food on the table. People who might be eligible can go to www.maine.gov/mymaineconnection or call 800-442-6003 to connect to local DHHS offices. Together, we can make a difference in Maine and help leave hunger in the dust.

Brooke Libby

SNAP outreach coordinator

Portland