Number of residents using food stamps rises sharply

Dan McDonald
Staff Writer

The number of Plumas County families who rely on food stamp assistance has nearly doubled in two years.

Social Services Director Elliott Smart said the numbers show “the recessionary economy has not begun to recover” in the county.

“Applications for public assistance programs have continued to trend at historic high numbers,” Smart told the county’s Board of Supervisors during its Feb. 21 meeting.

Smart said the quarterly trends report showed more than 250 new applications per month, on average.

“Last August we had 368 applications, which is the highest number I have ever recorded,” Smart said.

As of December 2011, 655 families were in the CalFresh (food stamp) program. The average eligible household received about $320 per month.

The positive spin was that most of the $222,982 from the program was spent at grocery outlets in the county, according to Smart’s report.

Smart said a single individual whose monthly income is below $600 is generally eligible for $200 per month in CalFresh benefits.

Smart said anyone who has questions about the program can call 283-6350 or visit the county website at

The number of people in the County Medical Services Program (CMSP) has risen in conjunction with the food stamp numbers. Smart said the numbers usually increase proportionately because many food stamp recipients are eligible for CMSP and have a medical need at the time of their application.

“CMSP meets the mandate to provide care for medically indigent persons who are the county’s responsibility under the Welfare and Institutions Code,” Smart said in his report. “An applicant must be a resident of Plumas County to receive CMSP benefits.”

The average monthly CMSP caseload was 257, up from 191 in fiscal 2010-11.

Although the numbers of people using many of the public assistance programs were above historic averages, some of the numbers are trending downward.

The number of cases in the cash assistance program was 189 for the last fiscal year. That was down from 194 the previous year.

The case count for the MediCal program was 1,040, down from 1,196.

The number of people requiring both child and adult protective services is down, as are in-home supportive services.


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