Despite what some might see as the economic recovery, residents in El Paso County are hurting, as demonstrated by the continued growth in their reliance on food stamps
, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The number of cases and the number of clients have increased, while the actual dollars have declined.
Roughly 11,500 more
people were on food stamps in March, a total of 72,749
, according to the most recent data available, than were in March 2011. That total is roughly 12 percent of the county's population.
The reason the issuance amounts have declined has to do with a change in how much people are able to qualify for.
, spokeswoman for the county's Department of Human Services, explains it like this:
As part of the economic stimulus package passed in 2009, Congress temporarily boosted Food Assistance benefits to help needy families get through the recession. That temporary increase expired the end of October 2013, and benefits were cut by about 5 percent.
Here you can see household size and amount of monthly reduction
Also, as the COLA raises the gross income limits every October, more households qualify, but may qualify for a small benefit amount due to their income being close to the income limit. Also as the economy is slowly improving, households income is increasing and reducing their benefit amounts.
There is no relationship between the size of our caseloads and the amount of benefits that clients get. The amounts are based on household size and income as calculated per Federal Food Assistance regulations.
Food stamp cases are escalating:
So are number of clients:
Dollars, though, are showing a slight decline: