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Many Tennessee Poor Find Food Stamps Only Resource

January 4, 2010

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Research for a recent New York "Times" article finds that nearly two-thirds of Americans using food stamps are unemployed and have no other income or assistance. In Tennessee, the report says the number of food stamp recipients living in households with no other income rose by 66 percent from 2007 to 2009. While these families have stamps for food, they're often living with relatives or in subsidized housing, or they're even homeless.

Brian Zralek of recently merged MANNA/Food Securities Partners, Nashville, says even if they do have some income, the state's food stamp recipients face difficult choices.

"Many people ask themselves, 'This month, am I going to pay for utilities or am I going to pay for a couple of more bags of groceries?'. The food stamps make it possible for people not to have to make such dire choices all the time."

Zralek says it's fortunate that the program is not the societal "badge of shame" it once was.

"There has been a stigma, but there's much less of one now."

The food-stamp program was expanded with bipartisan support as part of the stimulus package last spring, but some in Congress say the money would be better spent on a tax cut for small businesses to create jobs. They also worry about creating a group of people dependent on the government.

The article is available at

Randy O'Brien, Public News Service - TN