By Lindsay Hood // August 29, 2011
The number of San Diegans using food stamps to help supplement their income has increased by 89 percent since January 2009, according to the County’s Health and Human Services Agency.
For several years the number of people using food stamps, also known as the CalFresh program, in San Diego, in comparison to other cities across the country was extremely low.
In January 2009 San Diego’s food stamp program had 122,878 recipients. In July 2011, there were 232,255 food stamp recipients in San Diego almost double the number in less than two years.
There is a huge effort by the County and the state to get qualified individuals to sign up for food stamps, according to San Diego County spokesperson Tom Christensen.
But is it the economy or is it the County’s push to get people signed up for the program that has numbers skyrocketing? Christensen says it is both.
During a recent study in San Diego, 1752 people low-income family and individuals in San Diego were screened to see if they qualified for food stamps. Of those individuals 1099, or 63 percent, were qualified to have food stamps, according to Dr. Teresa Smith with the United Way and HHSA’s Thrive San Diego Initiative.
“It is not the general population, but it goes to show the need is there,” Smith said. “All of these people are making less than 50,000.”
Across California, the number of people applying for food stamps is up by 13 percent.
In May 2010, 3.3 million Californians were on food stamps. In May 2011, 3.7 million Californians were on food stamps, up 13.4 percent over the past year.