The number of people in the Eastern Sierra who are using federal food stamps to help make ends meet is on the upswing.
According to the New York Times, one in eight people in the United States is currently on a food stamp program. Here in the Eastern Sierra, the numbers are not that high, but do appear to be on the way up.
According to Anna Scott with the Inyo County Health and Human Services Department, the number of food stamp cases in Inyo County increased about 30% between July of 2008 and October of 2009. At 1467, the total number of people in Inyo County who receive food stamps is about 8.6% of the population.
In Mono County about 4% of the population is currently using food stamps, with 258 households receiving help from the program for a total of 431 people.
Unemployment, which was at about 10% at last word for both Eastern Sierra counties, plays a role, but seasonal employment does as well. For many people working seasonal jobs, money gets tight before their winter or summer job starts. Ed Zylman, the director of Mono County Social Services, says that his department gets slammed with food stamp requests every year in the fall before the ski area opens for the season. There is also typically a bump in the spring when the seasonal jobs end, but before the laid off staff has to leave employee housing. People may not realize the partnership, Zylman says.