Food Stamp recipients top 16 percent in Chenango

CHENANGO COUNTY – More than 16 percent of Chenango County residents rely on the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formally known as Food Stamps), according to recent data from Chenango County Department of Social Services and the United States Census Bureau.

Of the 62 counties in New York State, Chenango County ranks fifth in percentage of Food Stamp recipients, with 16.6 percent of its residents receiving supplemental nutrition support - an alarmingly high statistic that has county officials contemplating viable resolves that might hopefully lower that statistic in the future.

According to a year-to-year comparison issued by the Department of Social Services, Chenango’s status of Food Stamp recipients is slightly fewer than Chemung County (17.3 percent); Fulton County (17.3 percent); Oneida County (17.3 percent); Montgomery County (18.9 percent); and Chatauqua County (19.2 percent).

Bette Osborne, commissioner for Chenango County Department of Social Services, outlined trends of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the 2012 DSS annual report, which was presented to the county Health and Human Services Committee in March. According to the report, the number of SNAP recipients reported by Chenango County DSS has steadily increased since 2008, when only 5,891 county residents qualified for Food Stamp assistance.

SNAP recipients has since climbed to 7,763 by the end of 2012, despite the decline of the county population, which has dropped by more than 1,000 people over the last five years, according to the US Census Bureau.

The latest figures reported by Chenango County DSS reflect a 1 percent increase in SNAP caseloads since December of 2011. Caseloads have increased a total of 44 percent since 2008. However, there is some good news, Osborne noted. Numbers have declined slightly since January of 2013 and currently, only 672 of those individuals on Food Stamps are also on cash assistance.

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