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Food Stamp useage on the rise in Wilson County

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In June 2007, individuals in Wilson County received $822,678 that month through the Food Stamps program and there were 8,907 individuals enrolled.

According to the State DHS website, to be eligible for Food Stamps, individuals must register for work, participate in the Employment & Training Program, accept offers of employment, and cannot quit a job.

Able-bodied adults without dependents aged 18 to 59 can receive only five months of food stamp benefits in three years, unless working 80 hours per month or otherwise determined exempt from the rule.

The Gross Income Standard for receiving Food Stamps is $1,174 per month for a single individual, $1,579 for two and $1,984 for a household of three.

A correlation could be drawn between the higher number of local residents enrolled in the Food Stamps program and an unemployment rate that is almost 5 percent higher in 2010 than 2007.

Unemployment figures from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development show that four years ago Wilson County had an unemployment rate of 3.5 percent in May 2007 compared to more than double that number in May 2011 with the rate at 8.2 percent.

The same trend can be seen across Middle Tennessee with neighboring counties seeing a higher number of citizens enrolling in the federal program. Sumner County experienced an increase of more than $2 million in Food Stamps aid from June 2007 to June 2011.

In 2007, Sumner County received $1,307,308 for those enrolled in the program, with 13,329 individuals enrolled. That number more than doubled to June 2011 with $3,121,232 in Food Stamps coming to the county for 22,853 individuals.

Davidson County received $17,686,078 in June 2011 for 124,894 individuals compared to $8,143,260 for 80,012 individuals in June 2007. At the same time, Davidson’s unemployment rate was 8.6 percent in May 2011 while it was only 3.6 percent in May 2007.

Williamson County received $1,060,929 for 7,889 individuals in the Food Stamps program in June 2011 compared to only $431,246 in June 2007 for 4,447 individuals. The county’s unemployment rate stood at 3.8 percent in 2007, while it has risen to 6.6 percent May 2011.

The smaller counties around Wilson have also seen Food Stamp numbers double in the past four years. Smith County had 4,116 individuals enrolled in the program receiving $546,956 in June 2011. The county had 2,591 individuals receiving $251,993 from the Food Stamps program in June 2007.

DeKalb County received $620,149 from the Food Stamps program with the money going to 4,653 individuals in June 2011. Four years ago, the county received only $274,714 for 2,859 individuals in June 2007.

Those two counties had unemployment rates of 12.2 percent and 10.7 percent respectively, in May 2011. Their rates were 4.6 percent in Smith and 4.2 in DeKalb County in May 2007.

For more information, contact the local Department of Human Services Office at 443-2746. You may also visit online at www.tn.gov/foodstamps or www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/

Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at phall@wilsonpost.com.

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