FROM SCRATCH NEWSWIRE

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RECORD NUMBER OF STATE’S RESIDENTS ON FOOD STAMPS – 8 percent increase since January reflects tight economy (USA)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 3, 2008

12-03-2008

by Erik Schelzig – Associated Press

PUBLISHED BY ‘KNOX NEWS’ (USA)

Nearly 1 million people participated in the recently re-branded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in October, up more than 8 percent compared with January’s figures.

Monthly costs increased 22 percent over that period to $112 million, all of which is covered by the federal government.

“Food stamps absolutely trend with the economy,” said Department of Human Services spokeswoman Michelle Mowery Johnson. “And when the economy is doing poorly, we get really busy.”

Tennessee has avoided some of the larger increases experienced in other states because of the department’s previous success rate in signing up eligible families, she said.

National data compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows 3.8 million more people were on food stamps in September compared with the beginning of the year, a 13.8 percent increase. October numbers were not yet posted on the USDA’s Web site.

Tennessee food stamp use began setting new state records in January when food stamps were issued to more than 900,000 people for the first time. About 977,000 people received food stamps in October.

Food stamp usage was highest in West Tennessee, where 324,000 people, or 21 percent of the grand division’s population of 1.55 million, were receiving assistance. Similar numbers of people received food stamps in the other two divisions of the state, but since their populations are larger the rates came in at 15 percent in East Tennessee and 14 percent in Middle Tennessee.

Food stamps contribute an average of about $230 to each person’s monthly food budget and is available to those who earn less than 1.3 times the federal poverty rate. For example, a family of four earning less than $27,560 a year would qualify.

Tennessee’s highest food stamp rates were in Hancock, Scott and Grundy counties, where about one in three people received assistance. At least a quarter of the people in six other counties received food stamps.

The almost 200,000 people on food stamps in Shelby County made up the highest number of individuals receiving assistance in the state. But the rate of 22 percent of the county’s 911,000 people on food stamps ranked Shelby County 19th in the state.

A little more than 11 percent of the people in Knox County were on food stamps.

The lowest rate was in affluent Williamson County, where only 3 percent received assistance.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘KNOX NEWS’ (USA)

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