As a record number of Delawareans and Americans receive help from the government to put food on the table, USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon recognized the efforts by Delaware to meet that increasing need.
“No one should go hungry,” Concannon said during a press conference held at our Newark warehouse last Thursday . Concannon presented a federal bonus payment of $444,836 to the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services for increasing participation in the Food Supplement Program (food stamps) in 2010 to 92.6 percent, a 16-percentage-point increase over the previous year. He presented another bonus check for $320,503 for accuracy of benefit payments, and praised DHSS and state Social Services Director Elaine Archangelo for “being good stewards of the taxpayers’ money.”
In Delaware, the number of people receiving food stamps has almost doubled from a monthly average of 72,000 in 2008 to the 141,915 Delawareans who qualified in August 2011. The August benefits in Delaware totaled $17.9 million. Nationally, Concannon said that a record 45.8 million Americans received food assistance in August 2011, totaling $6.1 billion in benefits.
“You’re responding to the folks that live in Delaware who have need. And you’re doing it efficiently, you’re doing it accurately, and you’re also reaching one of the highest numbers of people who are eligible for the program in the country,” Concannon said.
Food stamp eligibility is based on such factors as who lives and eats together, as well as relationships in the home and income. The maximum gross monthly income limit for most families is set at 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, or about $3,725 for a family of four in Delaware. Not everyone who passes the gross income test is eligible for benefits, but everyone with a need should apply to find if they do.
Food stamps are paid for entirely by federal funds. Like other states, Delaware splits the cost of administering the program with the federal government. A U.S. Department of Agriculture study found that each new food stamp dollar spent increases the Gross Domestic Product by $1.79. In other words, every $5 in new benefits generates as much as $9 in economic activity.
In accepting the bonus payments, DHSS Deputy Secretary Henry said identifying and reaching more Delawareans is critical in these challenging economic times. “Above everything else, it means that people who are hungry will have more food on their tables, and that specifically helps Delaware’s children. About half of those who receive food stamp benefits in the state are children.”
Patricia Beebe, President & CEO of the Food Bank of Delaware, praised DHSS for its ongoing partnership with the Food Bank and other nonprofits across the state. Concannon, who toured the Food Bank following the press conference, said he had toured the Food Bank of New Orleans last week. He said a food bank is “almost like a church for its impact on people’s lives.”