More than one out of five people in Oregon are on food stamps, says a new report from the state Department of Human Services. Just don’t call them food stamps: a footnote in the report informs readers that that’s passé: “The Food Stamps program name changed to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) on January 1, 2010.” Snap.
Twenty-two percent of Oregonians received joint state-federal aid from SNAP in January—a number up about 6% from the previous January. But the number of SNAP recipients is expected to grow another five percent before summer officially begins in June. That pattern is a break from past seasonal patterns, which saw higher demand for food stamps in the winter ease during the summer months when people went back to construction and farm jobs.
In January, every part of Oregon saw increasing demand for Supplemental Nutritional Assistance. Even though the official state unemployment rate has finally dropped below 9% to hit 8.8%, many of those new jobs probably don’t pay an awful lot. In any case, a family of four can make as much as $3,554/month and still qualify for some subsidized food. And, in fact, children under 18 make up more than 37% of benefit recipients. However, senior citizens are signing up faster than any other demographic, partly because the state is advertising heavily to them through churches and other non-profit organizations.
One last growth factor: five hundred Oregonians are running of out unemployment benefits each week. Many of them may need nutritional assistance as well.
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