1 in 6 Live in Food Stamp Households; in Northeast Florida, Record Levels of People Are Seeking Assistance

Article excerpt

Byline: DEIRDRE CONNER

Despite national signs that economists say are pointing to a recovery, new figures show that those "green shoots" are having little real-life impact on struggling families.

Instead, the most recent statistics show that record levels of people locally and across Florida are receiving state assistance to survive. Despite recent news that the recession is statistically over, indicators such as unemployment - the local rate rose last week - tend to lag behind a recovery.

Figures recorded in August by the Florida Department of Children and Families show that one in six people in Northeast Florida live in households receiving food stamps, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. More than 220,000 people in Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns counties depend on the help, a figure that has doubled since August 2007. It is the highest in 17 years, the earliest date for which comparable figures were available.

Statewide, nearly 3 million people now receive food stamps.

Also, one in seven people locally are now on Medicaid, the government health care that mostly cares for poor children, pregnant women and people with disabilities. That's up 20 percent from 2007.

Temporary cash assistance also has increased less dramatically; it goes to support fewer than 7,400 families in the region. …