In a report released today, only 50% of the qualified poor nationwide received food stamps in 2004, while the percentage for my state of Wisconsin was significantly higher at 60%.
The authors of the study cited several reasons for the low participation rates including the stigma of government benefits, eligibility rules and lack of information about the benefits. The lowest participation rates among the eligible poor tend to occur when they live in wealthy counties.
Two of the three Wisconsin counties with the lowest participation rates are also two of the wealthiest: Waukesha and Ozaukee counties. Not surprisingly, these two wealthy communities are also solid, conservative-voting areas of the state with rising immigrant populations. The two divergent populations live in stark contrast to one another, often with both rural and urban poor living side by side with their wealthier neighbors. In other words, the poor are not invisible to the residents of these two counties.
County Republican leaders (and they are all Republicans) may wish to steal a page from the Karl Rove “Book of Joy” and start hosting Friday ice-cream socials with their unused federal food stamp funding.
Just sayin’ . . .