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Use of food stamps rises in Idaho County

The use of food stamps in Idaho County increased during the recession, assisting families in stretching their food dollars.

The proportion of Idaho County residents receiving food stamps hit 10.7 percent in 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services. That’s an increase of 5.6 percentage points since 2007, the year the recession started.

Idaho County’s food-stamp usage rate is lower than the state rate. Across Idaho, 14.8 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.

The inflation-adjusted median household income in Idaho County in 2011 was $40,583, compared to the Idaho median of $44,893. Nationally, median household income was $52,306 in 2011.

In 2011, residents of Idaho County received a combined $3,317,390 in SNAP benefits. The USDA reports that each $5 in SNAP benefits generates $9.20 in spending.

SNAP benefits start to circulate in the economy quickly. Participants spend nearly all their food stamps within one month of receipt, according to a study by the University of New Hampshire Carsey Institute.

Average SNAP benefits nationally fell about $30 a month per family in November after a temporary increase that was part of the 2009 economic stimulus package.

— Story is from The Daily Yonder (www.dailyyonder.com), an independent rural news site published by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Rural Strategies.

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