The blueberries caught Christine Hyatt’s eye today in a downtown grocery store. They were on sale, two for $3 — which was how much money Hyatt had left in her bank account.

But she didn’t have to use her last few dollars. Instead, the 27-year-old mom got to try out her new plastic EBT card, something food stamps recipients use like a debit card to buy food.

After months of trying to apply, Hyatt was finally able to use food stamps.

When it worked, she said she felt a mixture of disbelief and relief.

In the past month, we’ve been updating you on Hyatt’s attempts to get food stamps for her family. As we discussed in our special report, Out of Reach, San Diego County has had the lowest food stamps participation rate in the country annually.

Today we checked in with Hyatt. She got a letter from the county on Monday that said she and her family qualified for food stamps.

“The first thought in my mind was ‘No way!’” Hyatt said.

In separate envelopes were the EBT card and a letter asking for more documents to update the case file, like a recent bank statement.

Hyatt said she’s thankful she has food stamps now. But she since still has to turn in a few more documents, Hyatt said she’s trying not to get too excited.

“I just don’t want to set myself up for disappointment,” Hyatt said. “In the back of my mind I have this fear that they’ll cut it off. Or they’ll keep needing more and more information and I’ll have to keep dropping things off.”

In the meantime, Hyatt said she might take her three young children to the City Heights Farmers Market this weekend, where food stamps users can buy fresh fruits and vegetables.


Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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