Food stamp recipients double in South Florida

caines | 9/27/2012, 5:30 a.m.

651,613 now on the rolls

The number of residents in South Florida on food stamps continues to rise with August breaking new records. Recipients in Miami-Dade and Monroe County increased to 651,613 over 30,000 more requests from one year ago. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families [TANF, formerly ADC] was 11,568 recipients. Meanwhile, in Broward and Palm Beach Counties, things were just as bad. Those on food stamps in Broward increased 1.7 percent to 281,612 while Palm Beach rose 2 percent to 186, 214. All totaled, the number of South Floridians on food stamps has almost doubled in the past 26 months, despite the unemployment rate dropping in Broward [7.3 percent], M-D [9.4] and Monroe [5.0]. However, economists say the drop in unemployment was not due to job creation or job market improvement but because more people are dropping out of the work force and no longer seeking employment.

A closer look at the numbers

Department of Children and Family Communications Director Joe Follick says he believes that food stamp numbers will level off soon and begin to decrease. He and other officials say they are optimistic after seeing the growth rate for food stamp requests slow down. But for now, the future looks bleak. Based on records from the DCF, Broward more than doubled its demand, from 99,946 in August 2007 to more than 245,000 in August 2011. Miami-Dade recorded nearly twice as many food stamp clients, from 293,827 to almost 600,000. About a fourth of households have at least one provider with a paycheck, according to state statistics. But many, while employed, are taking low-paying jobs that dont provide enough money to feed their families, said DCF spokesperson Erin Gillespie. By D. Kevin McNeirkmcneir@miamitimesonline.com