South Florida will be hit hard if the Congress goes through in cutting $16 billion out the food stamp program -- with a record number of South Floridians continuing to apply to the program to feed their families, social service workers said Monday.
"The cuts can be done without hurting the needy," said Michael Mahaffey, a spokesman for Rep.
But those who work with food stamp recipients in Broward and Palm Beach counties are skeptical.
"People are moving from the middle class into poverty," said Joyce Curtis, executive director of the Jubilee Center of South Broward that runs a soup kitchen and food pantry in
"Maybe we would see five or people applying for food stamps in a day," she said. "Now we are seeing 15 to 20 people. It's an incredible epidemic of hungry people."
Indeed, the number of people in Broward and Palm Beach counties on food stamps continues to set records even with the unemployment rate going down. Broward’s number of food stamp recipients was up 1 percent in June to 275,324 while
The entire state also set a new record, with food stamp recipients up 1 percent last month with 3.47 million Floridians now getting food stamps, said Erin Gillespie, spokesman for the Department of Children and Families that administers the aid, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
There was good news in the June report: A dozen counties, including Volusia in central Florida, saw their number of food stamp recipients decline, she said. And the state and South Florida are seeing their rate of increases lessen, Gillespie added.
Still, Florida ranks as among the top states for those receiving food stamps, with more than one out of six -- or 18.3 percent of Floridians – getting the food aid. In contrast, about one out of seven people in the United States receives food stamps.
The South Florida fallout from the Great Recession has left many struggling with about 1,000 people calling in May to ask the free Palm Beach/Treasure Cost crisis and help line for any aid in feeding their families, said Patrice Schroeder of 211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast.
"They're looking for help in getting basic needs," she said.
People can apply online for food stamps at
Those who don't have computers at home can use the public computers at libraries. Or they can call the regional DCF office at 561-837-5078, or 211, for information on where to apply.