In the past three years, the number of Connecticut residents who received support from the federal food stamp program increased by 53 percent. The need for assistance increased at an even greater rate in Durham, Middlefield and Killingworth, according to a new report.
The latest figures show those needing assistance in Middlefield grew from 38 in 2007, to 88 in 2010, a 132 percent increase.
In Durham, the figures more than doubled, from 36 to 76 (111 percent increase), while in Killingworth, the assistance helped 61 residents last year, compared to just 32 three years ago (91 percent increase).
Now called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, the food stamp program is available to residents based on their income. For a family of four, the qualifying net monthly income is $1,838.
Middlefield Social Services Director Antoinette Astle said her office has seen an increase in the number of residents interested in the program - mostly seniors on fixed incomes - although the office does not handle applications for the program.
Residents in Middlefield, Durham and Killingworth are referred to the Department of Social Services at 117 Main St. Extension in Middletown.
"There was a misconception four or five years ago. Seniors would say 'I'm not going to get much. It's not worth it,'" Astle explained. "But I just had somebody come in last week and I followed up with them and they're getting $95."
Astle said the town also provides food assistance through charitable donations.
"When we have our food bank I put a [SNAP] flyer in the bag of food in case they want to apply," she said.
Despite the growing need in each of the three communities, only a single retailer, Killingworth Country Market, is listed as a SNAP retailer. There are multiple retailers in Middletown and Meriden that accept the debit cards. They can be found here.
The United States Department of Agriculture reports that for every $5 in new SNAP benefits, nearly twice as much ($9.20) is spent in the community.
To see how the need for food assistance has grown in other Connecticut towns, click here for information provided by the Hartford Courant.