Record number of Oklahomans receive food stamps in June

Wednesday, July 28th 2004, 5:33 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- More than 400,000 Oklahomans received food stamps last month, breaking a record that was set just two months earlier.

The number of recipients hit 412,829, a 6.1 percent increase from the same period last year and 57 percent higher than three years ago, the Oklahoma Human Services Commission learned Tuesday.

The total tops the previous record set in April by more than 3,000, statistics show.

Department of Human Services Director Howard Hendrick said the number of food stamp participants shows the state is doing a better job of reaching those in need.

"Oklahoma as a state has always done poorly in what is characterized as food instability," Hendrick said. "Oklahoma's always been in the bottom five."

More extensive education and outreach programs have helped people who need food stamps gain more access, DHS spokesman George Johnson said.

The rise in participation also could be attributed to a soft economy, Hendrick said.

Human Services Commission Chairman Steve Bailey said employment, specifically the type of employment, plays a role.

"Quality jobs and level of pay," Bailey said. "That's an area that really needs to be worked on in this state."

The Human Services Commission oversees DHS operations.