Vt. food stamp use on the rise

BURLINGTON Facing rising costs for food and fuel, an increased number of Vermonters are turning to the government Food Stamp Program for help in feeding their families. Nearly 56,000 individuals received food stamps in March 2008 apparently the largest participation rate since 1994. Visits to vermontfoodhelp.com, a clearinghouse for information on the states Food Stamp Program, increased by 50 percent in March 2008. More than 9,000 advocates and potential recipients used the site to learn about the program, assess potential eligibility and print an application. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, each food-stamp dollar that is allocated to a recipient generates $1.84 in economic activity. However, according to tax critic and New Market Press columnist Martin Harris, so-called governmental wealth-transfer payments shouldn't be counted: They destroy as much purchasing power through taxation as they create through entitlements, he said. Last year, the program provided over $58 million in buying power to low-income Vermonters, creating what some claim is a virtual stimulus package of $1.6 million to boost Vermonts economy.

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