SD Food Stamp Use Jumps
(The following information originally appeared in an article by Melanie Brandert, The Daily Republic, Mitchell, SD, on 2/6/2010.)
More South Dakotans are taking advantage of the federal food stamp program, with an increase of roughly 6,700 people in the last fiscal year.
In fiscal year 2009, 69,001 state residents received food stamps, up 6,727 from the previous fiscal year, according to the University of South Dakota's 2009 South Dakota Kids Count Factbook.
The annual rate of increase is the largest experienced since the South Dakota Kids Count report began publishing in 1991, Director Carole Cochran said. Both she and the state Department of Social Services attribute the increase to the economy.
"In looking at what was happening in other states, South Dakota was affected later by the recession," DSS spokeswoman Emily Currey said, citing job losses and stresses such as divorce and family breakups. "It probably will take us a little longer to get out of it."
William Swart, Augustana College associate sociology professor, said, "What we're seeing is a slide into poverty as the result of declining jobs, declining real wages and already high health care costs."
An estimated 64% of persons eligible for food stamps in South Dakota actually participate in the program. "Though people are eligible, they may not want to take advantage of the program or handouts," Cochran said.