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14% of Cerro Gordo County residents on “food assistance”


This news story was published on April 3, 2012.
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MASON CITY – According to figures from the state of Iowa, “food assistance” (formerly known as “food stamps”) has risen at an alarming rate over the past year in the North Iowa area.

In Cerro Gordo county, the most populous county in the area, 5,799 people took food assistance in 2010.  That number increased to 6,306 in 2011, well over a 10% jump in just one year.  That is over 14% of the county population per month on average participating in the program.

The trend of an overall rising number of people on food assistance even as populations decline somewhat rapidly in the area may be alarming to local leaders.

The state doled out nearly $9.3 million in 2011 to the program just for Cerro Gordo county.

I called the local Department of Human Services Office here in Mason City and asked how to sign up for the program, and they said to just “come on in the east doors at Mohawk Square, we are on the first floor, and fill out our paperwork.”

When I asked a few more questions, I was transfered to Deb Mandle, an “Income Maintenance Supervisor.”  I asked her about the volume of cases in general at her office and before I could ask anymore questions, she refused to answer and gave me a number for a person in Des Moines.

Here are the figures for food assistance for the last two years from the general area:


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22 Responses to 14% of Cerro Gordo County residents on “food assistance”

  1. Avatar

    common sense Reply Report comment

    April 6, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    They should have a food stamp store with nothing but healthy staples to feed your family. The money saved in stopping the fraud would pay for the place. Anyone who blames the left or right for the countrys problems is a joke! All republican and democrats are the problem. When this country realizes that things will get better.

  2. Avatar

    anonymous Reply Report comment

    April 4, 2012 at 9:56 am

    food stamp benefits are adjusted for inflation. Nothing to see here, move along.

  3. Avatar

    anonymous Reply Report comment

    April 3, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Food stamps are a joke as is our DHS system. These people who are on food assistance eat better, dress better and drive a better vehicle then I do. I work 3 jobs to keep life going so don’t tell me there are not any jobs out there.
    I saw a couple at Hy-Vee buy $160 worth of food stamp groceries then pay for their $27.00 bottle of captain morgan rum. Seems to me that they should be paying for their own groceries instead of me footing the bill for them. Those that are on food stamps and all the government assistance can afford the luxeries. Take away the food stamps from the ones that smoke and have the fancy cell phones. No wonder they can afford tattoos and the multiple god awful piercings that they seem to sport these days.
    The food stamps are buying these people the wrong foods. They are the ones with the cart full of mountain dew and junk foods and are a little overweight.

  4. Avatar

    John Bunnell Reply Report comment

    April 3, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    I’ve seen people trading their food stamps for cash so they can buy beer, death sticks, or whatever. I think that there should be an ID check when you use food stamps. But oh wait, that would be too embarrassing. I’ve also seen people buying top of the line steaks, something I never do because of the cost. Maybe I should go sign up, oh I can’t, I don’t have enough dependents…

    • Avatar

      Observer Reply Report comment

      April 3, 2012 at 6:28 pm

      For the past three years, food stamps have been in the form of a debit card. Thus the trading that once went on in paper form, now does not happen with such great frequency.

      There have been cases of trading drugs for commodities purchased with the card. As well, store clerks who are suspicious, have no hesitation to check an ID to make sure the name on it matches the debit card.

      Yes, I agree, limit the food types, leaving out fast food and junque.

      • Avatar

        Larry Reply Report comment

        April 4, 2012 at 10:50 am

        What they do is get the stuff themselves and take it thru checkout. Then they give it to you outside. I have seen this done many times at Fareway.

  5. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    April 3, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Our government has made it so easy to do nothing and get free everything we are creating a lazy society and HR people I talk to say the problem is finding people that can pass a drug test.

    • Avatar

      anonymous Reply Report comment

      April 3, 2012 at 6:01 pm

      People on the food stamp program should also have to pass a drug test.

  6. Avatar

    steve pelham Reply Report comment

    April 3, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for helping people who need food, but it should be nutritional food like meat/fish, vegies,dairy, and fruits, not bags of candy, chips and soda.

  7. Avatar

    confused Reply Report comment

    April 3, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Peter you are really getting ‘out there”. I would say that anyone that recieves government assistance should not be able to vote, period
    We are at a tipping point at which nearly 47% of the populaion is being subsidized by the government through food stamps, heat assistance, WIC, etc.

    This has got to stop

  8. Avatar

    steve pelham Reply Report comment

    April 3, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    A lot of people use thier EBT cards to buy junk food, candy chips, soda. Many of them also buy A & D ointment for the new tattoo they just spent a bunch of money on. If they can get Tattoos, they can buy thier own junk food. A lot of them are also extremely overwieght, as are thier kids. Bag of chips, some soda, and candy in front of the tv or video game. What a good supper.

  9. Avatar

    anonymous Reply Report comment

    April 3, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    I understand there is certainly a need in Cerro Gordo county…but I strongly feel there needs to be some regulation on what can be purchased with the food stamp program…no candy, chips, pop, junk food. The WIC programs states exactly what the recipient can get and that’s the way this program should be handled also. Also, if someone on food stamps smokes, take the food stamps away, if they can afford cigarettes, then they can afford to buy their own groceries.

    • Avatar

      Larry Reply Report comment

      April 3, 2012 at 3:29 pm

      I really agree with what you have said here. It used to be that way and somewhere, somehow it was changed to what we have today. I have had people on food stamps stop me at the store and ask if I will buy them beer or cigarettes for a trade on what they can buy with food stamps. Anything toxic should not be allowed and if they can afford tobacco they should not get food stamps. That should go for alcohol as well. It’s one thing to provide food where needed. It’s another to pay for their vices.

  10. Avatar

    Larry Reply Report comment

    April 3, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Peter L-This crap is getting old. It’s your president Obama who is the foodstamp president. Since he has been in office foodstamp participtation has increased every year, or, are you going to try to blame this on Bush as well. The democrats love to have people on welfare. That way they will vote for the hand that feeds them. Wake up and quit being stupid.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      April 3, 2012 at 11:04 pm

      Right on Larry!! You are dead on the mark. We should expect nothing less from a hate filled left wing loon.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      April 3, 2012 at 11:08 pm

      Larry…..I am sure you will agree that someone like Peter here will fit very well in San Francisco. The home base of left wing hate and lunacy.

  11. Avatar

    FormerNI resident Reply Report comment

    April 3, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    I think that anyyone using the excuse “there are no jobs” need to consider finding a job somewhere other than where they live now… That excuse is getting old, there are plenty of jobs, it’s a matter of taking the initiative to find one. People have made themselves ok with government assistance as a lifestyle. Where did pride in taking care of your family go? Why has it come to let everyone else do it for me? Get rid of your smart phone, stop buying cigarettes and alcohol, don’t eat fast food…. Make sacrifices for your own family so everyone else doesn’t have to!!

  12. Avatar

    Peter L Reply Report comment

    April 3, 2012 at 11:45 am

    I think it should be required that anyone who receives food stamps should not be able to register or vote Republican. If they do, the votes should be crosschecked with the Dept. of Human Services and negated.

    • Avatar

      Observer Reply Report comment

      April 3, 2012 at 5:53 pm

      I beg your pardon Peter. Since when did anyone give the Government, the ability, outside of felons, to take away the right to vote? Is this some sort of Jim Crow fashioned law?

      If you believe that is in keeping with our Constitution, what say yee if I demand all people who approve of drugs and love spaceship houses, be denied the right to vote?

      • Avatar

        Observer Reply Report comment

        April 3, 2012 at 7:31 pm

        So you belive that you should have the say so to tell which people can vote, and which cannot based on what you think of them?

        What happened to the self-proclaimed Libertarian who just a few months ago was heaping praise upon Dr. Paul (who is running as a Republican)?

        Did your car also tell you to say that?

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      April 3, 2012 at 11:03 pm

      Typical hate filled, ignorant, left wing bullshit!!

  13. Avatar

    anonymous Reply Report comment

    April 3, 2012 at 11:28 am

    This reflects three things:

    1. The income limits for the food assistance program have been adjusted up. You don’t have to be as poor as you used to have to be to get assistance.

    2. There are a lot of underemployed persons in the county.

    3. There are a lot of unemployed persons in the county.