In addition to the environmental devastation that BP’s oil disaster has caused, the spill has also destroyed the livelihoods of countless people who live on the southeastern coast of the United States who depend on jobs based along the Gulf of Mexico. Florida’s Capitol News Service reports today that food stamp applications have “soared” along the Florida coast following the spill:
Applications for food stamps in Panhandle counties have soared since oil began gushing from the broken BP pipe leak. Since May 1st application are up 15 percent. The Department of Children and Families is keeping separate data to track people who qualify for food stamps because the oil has destroyed their careers. Don Winstead is the Welfare Advisor for DCF. He says along with the growing need for food assistance is a growing need for councilors to help families going through hard times.
“Being not only in the food stamp program and other benefit programs but also seen through our mental health program also. One of the things we typically do after disaster is increase our counseling capacity because people are going to be affected in a variety of ways,” said Winstead.
The number of people seeking assistance in coastal Louisiana has reportedly gone up as well. Second Harvest Food Bank in New Orleans tells McClatchy newspapers that it has seen “at least a 15 percent jump in new families requesting services.” Additional funding for food stamps benefits was originally in the Senate’s unemployment “extenders” legislation, but it was removed in the hopes of getting conservative votes — a tactic that didn’t work as the bill once again failed to advance today.