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More local families relying on food stamps

Dan McDonald
Staff Writer
9/21/2011

More Plumas County residents rely on food stamps than ever before.

In a continued sign of the depressed economic times, 622 households received food stamp assistance in May. The average household is comprised of roughly three people.

“The numbers are unprecedented,” County Social Services Director Elliott Smart said. “It’s a reflection of the need that’s out there in the community.”

Smart revealed several eye-opening statistics during a recent presentation for the Plumas County Board of Supervisors.

Food-stamp households have increased nearly 300 percent in just four years, according to those statistics.

Smart said many people are asking for government assistance for the first time in their lives.

“I want to emphasize that, more and more, we are seeing folks who have not ever had to come to us for help or assistance,” Smart said. “These are not people who have had long-term connection with our services, but people who have been displaced from jobs and from self-support.

“Probably the last place they want to be is in our office asking for support. And my staff knows that.”

The dramatic increase in assistance requests has put a strain on social service workers.

Smart praised his staff for absorbing the heavy workload, while treating applicants with respect and dignity at the same time.

“The compassion and understanding they show is significant to me,” Smart said of his staff. “We continue to see application counts that have been in the average range above 250 per month. That has been the case now for close to over 30 months.”

The food-stamp surge does have a positive impact on the local economy. Smart said 67 percent of the CalFresh (food stamp) money is spent in the county.

An average eligible household receives about $320 monthly. In June, that added up to $204,216.

“Those are dollars that go back into the community,” Smart said. “They support jobs for grocery clerks and folks who are associated with that trade.”

 

Foster care numbers decline

Smart said the number of children in foster homes has started to go down.

“I still think it is a little too high, but our goal here is to protect children,” Smart said. “And if they can’t go back to a safe home, they are going to stay in foster care for a while.”

He said the majority of the cases involve parents abusing alcohol and drugs.

“We have increasing use of methamphetamine in the community,” Smart said. “Even though we tell them that unless you (stop), there is little likelihood that your children are going to be returned to you.

“Even under those circumstances, we have some people where it is just very difficult for them to break that cycle.”

 

In-home supportive services

“We are continuing to see a decline in cases of our in-home supportive services program,” Smart said. “We are running in a range of about 245 to 265 cases per month. That is about a 23 percent reduction from our high count in June of 2005.”

 

Other statistics

—The average number of referrals for adult protective services is about 25 per quarter (three months). However, the numbers for the last two quarters were 14 and 12, respectively.

—There were eight emergency responses for child protective services in June, down from an average of 16.

—The county medical services program (CMSP) tends to rise proportionately with an increase in food stamp cases, because many food stamp recipients are also eligible for CMSP. The average monthly CMSP caseload for 2010-11 was 191, up from 131 the prior year.

—The number of people applying for cash assistance (CalWORKs) has begun to fall slightly. However, the 195 cases in June were still about 25 percent above average.

—Applications for all assistance programs were 250 in June. That number was higher than May. But it was below the average of 263, and well below the 362 applications in January.

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& there's the hole problem,ie..enabling behavior<br />YES thay should be ashamed<br />ho i'm just going to give up & be rewarded for it
VOTES:5
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To get a job at wal-mart someone has to die or retire. Then there are 50 people waiting to get that one job. And no one should be ashamed of having to apply for aid. Especially if you have children. Some people just need to take thier pedistal and go else where if they don't like it.
VOTES:-5
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PN allows commenting and a couple of you turn it into a spit fight. Grow up!
<br />I'm just stating facts sir. I dont think I need to grow up.
VOTES:6
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I have a great job that pays me well. Yes you need to go back to school to learn how to spell properly.
VOTES:-10
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you think i need to go back to school?<br />& yet i'm the 1 working
VOTES:8
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PN allows commenting and a couple of you turn it into a spit fight. Grow up!
VOTES:11
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At least they can play their guitar and sing Kumbaya!! Good Job keep voting for Demorats and you'll have more to talk about, and it won't be good.
VOTES:8
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I think you need to go back to school and learn how to spell. Lazy? I doubt that. Go for a walk downtown in any town in Plumas county someday and look at how many empty store fronts there are and tell me that there are jobs out there... not many if you ask me, unless you have a bachlors degree
VOTES:-8
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&<br />you don't whant to move? you know we "humans are migratorial,,,ya your right its easyer to get hand outs than actively look for work
VOTES:8
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Where? when have you looked at the last local paper?? 95% of the jobs in there are in LASSEN COUNTY!! what about those who do not want to live in Susanville? There's not a lot of jobs in the Plumas county area! Ask my mom, she's been out of work for almost 10 years, and looks all the time!
VOTES:-11
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tons of work ,,,ya know if ya whant it...<br />i know iknow it's just easer to get hand outs. unsted of finding your niche
VOTES:6
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What jobs Dennis? what jobs? sure they are out there, but you have to beat out a few hundred other people for one job. you have to think that most jobs around here are seasonal too and they dont pay that great. you also need to think that there AREN'T that many jobs avaliable here in Plumas County.
VOTES:-8
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ever notice most of the folks on "assistance" & foe disability,are over weight.now theres a great place to start on cut backs,,,,maybe go on a sliding scale with the hand outs
VOTES:9
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if it was harder to get, maybe just maybe hooverville & jfkville would not be sooooo big with there enabling behavior<br />they "recipients" aka loto winners, would have to get off there butts & get a job
VOTES:8

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