Remember this story, about the county’s poor rate of participation in the food stamp program among those who qualify for the support program? In June, we looked at numbers from a national agency called the Food Research and Action Center, which showed that among San Diego County’s eligible families to receive food stamps, only 26 percent of them were accessing them.
Today, the FRAC released a new version of that report, showing that San Diego’s rate has grown to reach 31 percent of the eligible families. But that wasn’t enough to raise San Diego out of last place among the 24 metropolitan areas studied. And San Diego is one of just four of those areas that serves fewer than half of the eligible families in the food stamps program, FRAC reported.
But, there’s good news, say local advocates and the FRAC researchers: San Diego’s efforts to increase participation are working.
“At least the numbers are moving up; that’s something that you want to see,” said Ellen Vollinger, FRAC’s research director in Washington, D.C.
The updated report bases the 31 percent participation rate on the latest available data, from mid-2005, Vollinger explained. But according to some other, more recent data included in the report, San Diego posted an 8 percent caseload growth between mid-2006 and mid-2007. That was the third largest year-over-year caseload growth among the 24 cities. (That data is in table 4 in the report).
“That table 4 provides some hopeful news for San Diego,” Vollinger said. “Clearly it had a long way to go, and the participation rate is very disappointingly low. But at least they’ve broken that 30 percent mark.”
Tia Anzellotti, executive director of the San Diego Hunger Coalition, echoed Vollinger’s tempered praise.
“We are making great progress, but still have a long way to go to ensure that low-income San Diegans can consistently put healthy food on the table,” she said in a press release about the study.