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Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 1:20pm

Food Stamp Use Up 42%

Lack of jobs and continued weakness in the economy are sending more Georgia families into the food stamp program.

The number of Georgians receiving the supplemental food assistance has jumped 42% in two years.

The US Agriculture Department says, there are now 1.8 million Georgians using food stamps.

That's one in seven Georgia families.

Clare Richie of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute says, you only have to look at the employment market to understand why.

"A lot of it has to do with more and more families who have found themselves living in poverty," Richie says. "Georgia is the 12th poorest state in the nation. And that means that one in five children are living in poverty."

The numbers leave out people eligible for but not using the benefit.

"Those include seniors, those of limited English proficiency or those who've never accessed the program before," Richie says. "Maybe they recently lost a job and they're not in the same income level that they were before."

Last month's jobs picture showed Georgia second-worst in terms of job losses nationwide.

Only Indiana posted more job losses.

Georgia was one of only six states to lose jobs.

The income level qualifying for food stamps is now about $2,000 a month for a family of three.