County food stamp use increases

As people try to save money any way they can, Shelby County’s food stamp rolls continue to grow.

County food stamp supervisor Carol Harrison said the number of cases in Shelby County has been steadily increasing over the past 12 months, and that there are new applicants each month.

“The state of Alabama has been trying to increase the number of residents receiving food assistance benefits,” she said. “Every $5 in federal food stamps issued generates $9.20 of local and state economic activity. It’s beneficial to the county for people to apply for benefits if they’re eligible.”

The county’s Department of Human Resources has done public service announcements and advertisements to boost the food stamp program, Harrison said.

The county’s food assistance program served an average number of 2,562 households per month from October 2007-September 2008, she said. The total amount of benefits issued during that time equaled $7.8 million.

Harrison said the food assistance program’s most current data shows that 2,650 households — which equals 7,273 people — were served in Shelby County in December 2008. That’s an increase of more than 1,600 people from December 2007, when the program served 5,590 people.

There isn’t any demographic that stands out, she said, as all ages and both genders were represented in the data.

Food stamps are doled out based on maximum income limits for households of different sizes. For a household with four people, the maximum income per month is $2,297.

Anyone within the income limits can apply for food stamps by visiting the Alabama Department of Human Resources Web site.