East Texas food stamp demographic changing

BEAUMONT, TX (News Release) - By Donna McCollum - email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - More East Texans are on food stamps.  Fortunately, the state is doing a better job of handling the sharp rise in applicants. That's not the only change in the food stamp program.

There's a new demographic served by the food stamp program, now referred to as S.N.A.P. food benefits. The acronym S.N.A.P. can't really be applied for the application process. Like first-time user and university student Aubrey Price.

"Just looking for a few benefits as far as food concerned, so I came up here, maybe a year ago, and I was able to get processed and this is my second time doing it," said Price.

The downturn in the economy has also prompted more families to seek public assistance.

"Food stamps and food benefits have been in the news a lot and people see that. They think, 'Hey, I think my family could qualify and they come in," said spokesperson Stephanie Goodman with Health and Human Services.

Homeless program coordinator Angela Kirk notes the food benefits are what bridge some families from losing their home.

"Two parent families, with multiple children; they frequently will have food stamps and rely on that as their source for food because their income is just paying their bills," said Kirk.

In Angelina County, enrollment for food benefits increased 11 percent from last year and 45 percent since 2008. More than 15,000 people need help to put food on the table.

In Nacogdoches County, enrollment is about where Angelina County was two years ago. Nevertheless, enrollment has grown more than 13 percent in the last year and 40 percent since 2008.

The acronym S.N.A.P. can't really be applied for the application process. It's still rather detailed at eight pages, plus a follow-up interview.

In East Texas the state is processing 93 percent of the cases within the 30-day federal requirement, better than the state average.

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