Thursday, March 12, 2009

32 Million on Food Stamps - and 1 in 11 is Texan

New numbers show a record number of Americans - nearly 32 million - turning to the SNAP program (aka Food Stamps) to feed their families. 

One in eleven of these lives in Texas - and anecdotal evidence suggests the need is growing.
  • SNAP offices in Fort Worth are seeing a "dramatic increase" in applicants. "What we saw in January we believe could be our first wave, but it’s only one month of data," said a spokesperson.
  • Offices in Laredo are being flooded with requests. “We have people literally like this. Lines from the windows back as far as our restroom doors,” said office manager Terri Werth.
  • Officials estimate that only 67% of those eligible are receiving the benefit, translating to lost federal aid - as much as $173 million in cities like Dallas
Sitll, aggregate statewide numbers show a recent downward trend. March data from HHSC reports 400,000 fewer individuals receiving benefits since November, when Hurrican Ike generated a spike in need. 

However, experts point out these numbers are still 200,000 higher than six months ago. Many believe the recent drop can be credited to Ike families leaving the program - while the long-term need continues to inch upward.

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