Food Stamps Could Bring More Money to Local Econ If People Just Sign Up

FRESNO, Calif. Melissa Roe understands the value of a dollar. "Food costs a lot. A gallon of milk is $3," said Roe.

That is why she and 100 others are in this food line for a nice Christmas meal courtesy of the Salvation Army. The rest of the year Roe uses her E.B.T. food stamp card to get groceries. Roe said, "Without the food stamps I would not be able to feed my children."

The number of Californians who rely on the food stamp program like Roe has increased nearly 31% over last year. The California budget project believes more can be done to include other families.

"Food stamp benefits not only struggling families but struggling economies," said senior policy analyst Scott Graves.

Graves said every food stamp dollar spent is worth nearly two dollars to our local community because of the jobs it helps sustain. Graves is asking for the state and its counties to adopt new solutions to bring more people into the food stamp program.

They include reducing the amount of paper work involved, eliminating the financial asset test on households and dropping the fingerprint imaging requirement designed to stop fraud.

Graves said, "Most of them have been adopted by the vast majority of states. In some cases California is one of two or three states that have not adopted these efforts."

Johnie Belford manages Fresno County's Food Stamp Program and says farm workers in West Fresno County are a prime example of a group underserved by the Federal food stamp program.

Belford said, "A lot of it is misinformation. And the perception that it's a welfare program instead of a nutrition program. Some of it's pride."

Fresno County Food Stamp Program Information:

The Food Stamp Program can help support good nutrition and help keep children and adults strong and healthy. The program is the only nationwide program available to all who need it, if eligible, regardless of age or family arrangement. Benefits are based on household income, with deductions allowed for certain expenses such as housing. Food Stamp benefits can provide an important "safety net" to families who have been discontinued from the CalWORKs program. To learn how to apply for benefits click here.

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