In a letter to Louisiana’s Secretary of the Department of Social Services, Kristy Nichols, and Louisiana’s Commissioner of the Division of Administration, Angele Davis, and a press release the Louisiana Budget Project (LBP) and the Kingsley House, strongly urge that the state use new federal money to provide additional resources to the state food stamp program. These additional resources will help ensure that applicants of the state food stamp program do not have to wait for interviews and applications are reviewed in a timely manner. 

The FY 2010 Department of Defense Appropriation provides $400 million in new federal money for states to use to enhance their food stamp operations in response to increasing caseloads. Louisiana’s share is $7.4 million, based on estimates by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.  Last year, Louisiana chose to use this increase in federal funds to offset cuts in state funds, rather than providing additional resources to the program.

These actions of Congress are in response to the deepest recession since the Great Depression. As a result of this recession, in Louisiana, like in every other state, food stamp recipients are increasing. In the first half of FY 2010, the total number of food stamp recipients was 4,573,021, an increase of 619,606, or 15.7%, from the comparable period last year.  Reflecting declining family incomes, the size of the benefit provided food stamp recipients increased from an average of $120.42 per recipient to $134.81.

From the above, it is clear that the additional federal funds for handling this increased caseload are a welcome addition to the state budget, and it is critical that they be used in the manner intended by Congress.