Use of Food Stamps Rises in Holmes and Washington Counties

Food Stamps
Published: Tuesday, May 27, 2014 at 03:52 PM.

The use of food stamps in Holmes County increased during the recession, assisting families in stretching their food dollars, contributing to local spending and helping spark a national debate about the future of the federal nutrition program.

The proportion of Holmes Countyresidents receiving food stamps hit 27.0 percent in 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services. That’s an increase of 12.5 percentage points since 2007, the year the recession started.

Across Florida, 17.2 percent of residents in 2011 received support from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), as the food stamp program is officially known. Nationally, 14.8 percent of the population receives SNAP benefits.

Places like Holmes County, which are located outside metropolitan areas, tend to have a higher percentage of the population receiving SNAP benefits. That’s because incomes are generally lower in nonmetropolitan counties.

The inflation-adjusted median household income in Holmes County in 2011 was $34,397, compared to the Florida median of $45,830 and the national median of $52,306 (in 2013 dollars).

Food stamps may play a larger role in the local economy in rural areas and small towns, according to federal data. In Holmes County SNAP benefits are 1.1 percent of personal income. Nationally, the figure is 0.6 percent.

In 2011, residents of Holmes County received a combined $8,040,242 in SNAP benefits. The USDA reports that each $5 in SNAP benefits generates $9.20 in spending.

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