JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- You gotta eat, right?
But the economy stinks and people from all walks of life are finding that putting food on the table is tough, on some days, impossible.
According to data from the Florida Department of Children and Families and Second Harvest Food Bank, nearly 50,000 people on the First Coast could be eligible for food stamps, but are not signed up.
First Coast News, through our Hero Central effort, is working with DCF and Second Harvest to inform the public about the food stamp program. You might qualify.
Government numbers show one in seven Floridians is currently receiving SNAP benefits.
Why not more? Some are embarrassed. Some don't know how to begin the process. Others think if they're employed, they would make too much to qualify.
(The fact is, though, some working people do have food stamps. You don't need to be jobless to apply and possibly qualify.)
Is there a guarantee you'll receive food? No, but it's worth a try.
To see if you might qualify or to just begin the application process go to the state's website.
The phone number to the Florida Department of Children & Families is: 1-866-762-2237.
The average food stamp benefit (free groceries -- no taxes due at store) for an individual person in Duval County is $138.47. Per household in Florida, it's $292.22.
According to DCF and Second Harvest, the food stamp benefit money comes from federal dollars. Each month, the First Coast is losing $11 million in unspent food stamp money. It's money lost to our local economy, they say.
At the University of North Florida, the chairman of the Economics Department Paul Mason, said any money spent now is important to our local economy.
Every food stamp dollar spent actually puts roughly $1.80 in economic benefit into the local economy because of the conventional "multiplier" effect, said Mason.
How much could you get each month? That depends on many factors. Begin the application process to find out.
There are dozens of places around the First Coast to apply or ask questions in person.
They include several public libraries, the Greater Jacksonville Church of God on Soutel, Metro Kids Konnection on Cleveland Road, and the Second Chance Help Center.
First Coast News