posted on Feb, 13 2005 @ 12:27 PM
I don't know how people are making it without food stamps," she said.
Nowadays, many Floridians aren't.
In the Sunshine State, the number of people receiving federally sponsored food stamps soared 53 percent in the past four years to almost 1.4 million
residents -- a startling statistic when considering the state's population during the same time period grew 8.4 percent.
The massive numbers are widespread across South Florida.
Miami-Dade County has seen a 27-percent jump overall, to 333,895 people, when comparing December 2000 to December 2004.
Palm Beach County's food-stamp population leapt 57 percent to 58,700 people, from December 2000 to December 2004.
In Broward County, the growth has been a staggering 92 percent over the same period. As of Dec. 31, 102,238 people received food stamps in the
Officials with the state, which administers the federal food program, tout the increase as a sign of progress. They point out that federal and state
legislation extended food stamps' availability to groups such as legal immigrants, who used to be excluded from the program. Meanwhile, outreach -- a
publicized statewide help line and prescreening by phone -- has made slogging through the bureaucratic process more tolerable. And common-sense
changes, such as combining the food-stamp application with other federal nutrition programs, has cut down on the paperwork families must fill out.
But others worry the upswing in recipients reflects a stagnant economy that has left some families scraping pennies to buy food.
"Since 2001, we've got a pretty weak economy," said Ellen Vollinger, legal director for a national public-policy center on food and nutrition.
"Some of the increase in the [food stamp] caseload, hopefully, is that we're reaching some of the eligible. But it's probably also that we have a
larger pool, in part because there's such a strong need."
An average of 21.3 million people in America -- more than half children -- received food stamps each month in fiscal year 2003, according to the
United States Department of Agriculture.
Yet 36 million people, including 13 million children, went hungry or worried about where their next meal was coming from, Vollinger said, quoting a
federal hunger report.
Episania Retamar, of Hollywood, has relied on food stamps to help feed her two granddaughters for four years.
She saw her family's monthly allowance get slashed from $245 to $115 per month last year when she got a $6.70-per-hour job cleaning a fast-food
restaurant at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Retamar, 57, wants to be independent and assistance-free, but right now she is glad for
the help. She works so hard most days her back aches, but she still does not earn enough to support the family. The extra $115 she gets from the
government enables her family to squeak by.
A recent door-to-door survey in Palm Beach County revealed that almost 19 percent of working-poor families -- those making $35,000 a year or less for
a family of four -- often make do with small, nutritionally skimpy meals or skip them altogether.
Palm Beach? The well to do reside there. Whats happening? Maybe things arent as good as we're told. They're not alone. Not many can make ends
Mod Edit: Per request of poster
[edit on 2/13/05 by FredT]