Applications for food stamps spiraled in Orange County over the past two years as the full effects of the great recession and accompanying high unemployment took hold, according to county figures.
“Food stamps was the first area where we noticed a demand” when the recession began in 2007, said Terry Lynn Fisher, spokesperson for the Orange County Social Services Agency. People “People may not have to go to the doctor right away, but they do get hungry.”
For the 2009-10 fiscal year, which ended in June, an average of 102,208 county recipients were on food stamps each month, a 45 percent increase over 2008-09.
In 2008-09, the average number of recipients was 70,541 — a 30 percent jump over the year before.
Food stamps are a federal program to ensure that those at or near the poverty level get basic assistance to buy food. Orange County’s unemployment rate is about 9.5 percent, according to federal and state reports.
In fiscal 2005-06, before the recession began, the average monthly food stamp recipients was 44,191, a drop of 17 percent from the previous year.
In 2006-07, the average monthly number rose 10 percent, and in 2007-08, it grew by 12 percent.
— TRACY WOOD