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Author Blames County for Low Participation in Food Stamp Program

(Photo: People wait inside the HighlandAvenueBaptistChurch in National City t...
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Above: (Photo: People wait inside the HighlandAvenueBaptistChurch in National City to receive a box of food from the San Diego Food Bank and to see if they qualify for food stamps. Katie Orr/KPBS)

— An author and advocate for the hungry is slamming San Diego County for making it difficult to sign up for the federal food stamp program. KPBS reporter Katie Orr went to the National City church where Joel Berg was speaking and has this story.

Berg is the Executive Director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger and the author of “All You Can Eat, How Hungry is America”. The San Diego Food Bank says about 121 thousand county residents receive Food Stamps but more than 70 percent of people who are eligible haven’t signed up to receive them. Berg says county government is to blame for those numbers.

“Considering we are in a serious recession, considering the fast growing population of people needing food are working families, considering this is federal funds that will pump up the local economy and create local jobs, it really is insane that the county is still standing in the way of people getting federally funded nutrition benefits for their children,” he says.

Berg appeared at the Highland Avenue Baptist Church where the Food Bank was distributing food. Vanessa Franco is with the Food Bank which has begun screening people at distribution events to see if they qualify for food stamps.

“Maybe they don’t have the time to take time out of their day to go out to the county office. You know, they’re already here getting in line for food. So we’re trying to capture them while they’re here and give them all the information that they need so they can try to apply for the food stamp program,” she says.

Franco says the event at the Highland Avenue church was expected to serve about 700 people.

Katie Orr, KPBS News.

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