Number up 12% since July 2009
BATON ROUGE, La (WGMB) -- One in five Louisianians now use food stamps to get by every month. That's according to a new report from The Pelican Institute of Public Policy in New Orleans.
According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 850,000 people in Louisiana are reliant on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP). That's up 12.1% since July 2009.
"A lot of it has to do with the oil spill, as well as the overall economy in Louisiana and in the nation as a whole," says Trey Williams with the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services.
In the first 10 months of the fiscal year, Louisiana's food stamp program cost the federal government $1.1 billion. Right now, the Bayou State's SNAP participation rates are third in the country, behind Tennessee and Mississippi.
"It shows that our state is finally economically really struggling," says Michael Acaldo with St. Vincent de Paul.
He says the homeless shelter has more mouths to feed than ever before. "People who have never had to turn to us for help are coming to us for their basic needs," he says.
Many of those people are SNAP recipients. He says towards the end of the month, the number of people showing up for lunch increases, mainly because food stamps don't last people through the entire month.
SNAP recipients make up about 19% of the state's population. That's well above the national average of 13.6%. In the New Orleans region, the number of people who need SNAP went up 22.13% from last year. In Baton Rouge, the average increase is 11.76%. Across the country, the number has increased by more than 17%.
Pelican Institute President Kevin Kane says this is a problem for the United States. "The trend cannot continue indefinitely," he says. "At some point, our alarming federal deficit will force the decision-makers in Washington to face reality. Hopefully, this will lead to a more sustainable system that focuses on those who are truly in need."
For more information on SNAP, check out the Dept. of Children and Family Services website at http://www.dss.state.la.us/index.cfm?md=pagebuilder&tmp=home&pid=93