POSTED: Thursday, December 18, 2008 - 6:46pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 3:22pm
New Alarming Numbers Sign of the Times
EL PASO--- A Texas Agency released alarming new numbers about how El Pasoans are paying for food, showing El Paso is not immune to the national economic crisis.
Nearly 160,000 El Pasoans are using their food stamp cards at the checkout, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
That's a 17 percent jump from six months ago.
The news is not surprising to one Lower Valley grocery store owner.
"We have more (customers) stating that they're having a harder time to make ends meet and they've gone to apply for food stamps," said Gloria Barron, who owns the Barron Superette in the 7500 block of Acapulco.
Every two out of five customers are using the cards, Barron estimated.
Customers, like Maria Torija.
"When we asked for the benefits after our daughter was born. We could have received more then, but we didn't need it then," Torija said.
But Torija and her family need the extra money now.
Torija and her husband work, but have been living off this food stamp card for the last three years, she said.
Until a couple of months ago, her family received $200 a month.
The average El Paso County family receives $270 a month.
Moreover, the number of El Pasoans on food stamps is not the only alarming figure.
The cost to taxpayers increased from $13 million in June, to $17 million this month, said Commission spokesperson Stephanie Goodman.
There are two reasons for the increase in state dollars being used, said Goodman.
Besides the increase in new recipients, the state is giving more to current recipients to make up for cost-of-living expenses, she said.
Torija's family just received that raise.
The family now receives $325 a month to pay for groceries.
"I feel relieved, because the money now lasts longer. The things I couldn't get before, I can get now," Torija said.
It's enough to make these hard times just a little easier, she said.
Want to learn if you may be eligible for food stamps? Fill out the form on the following link.