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Report: Feeding NM Kids Could Boost Economy

October 17, 2008

Albuquerque, NM - Feeding children in New Mexico could be an easy way to stimulate the slumping economy. A new report from New Mexico Voices for Children examines at the economic boost the state could realize if more of the families who are eligible for Food Stamps signed up for the program.

Report author Gerry Bradley says just over 60 percent of eligible families currently receive them, and increasing the figure to 80 percent could have a beneficial effect, both on families and the businesses they patronize.

"This would have the effect of increasing personal income in New Mexico by about $42 million. Not only is it the right thing to do, morally, it's also the right thing to do to combat the effects of the business cycle."

Simplifying and shortening the application and reducing worker caseloads are ways Bradley believes the state can help boost enrollment.

"As a service that provides needed nutrition to children and working families, it can have a huge impact, especially as we're entering into a period of practically no economic growth and the added hardship on the living standards of working families that goes along with that."

Bradley sees a need to change the public's perception of the Food Stamp program. The report cites a number of reasons eligible New Mexicans might not sign up, from fear of social stigma to lack of transportation and limited literacy. Read it online at www.nmvoices.org.

Eric Mack/Elizabeth Grattan, Public News Service - NM