Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Thu, March 29 2012 at 4:56 PM, Updated: Thu, March 29 2012 at 5:11 PM
Food stamps help to feed over 46 million Americans - and food stamps may also help to feed the economy.
Jim Wells of the Portland Street Market in Klamath Falls says food stamps help boost his bottom line...
"We figure probably around five percent of our total gross is actually coming from the food stamp end of it."
In 2002, there were a little over 9 thousand people in Klamath County receiving food stamps. That number has doubled over the last decade. In 2011, there were about 18 thousand food stamp clients in Klamath County. Klamath County received about 27 million dollars through food stamp benefits.
"And that's a lot of money generated back here into stores and supermarkets." Noted Wells.
Greg Chandler of the Department of Human Services says that money creates jobs...
"It creates farm jobs, which create trucking jobs, and if people have money to buy food, then it frees up other money that they might have."
Not everyone's in favor of food stamps. Some abuse the system, or collect benefits illegally. And there's enough of a stigma that many people who are eligible don't apply...
Chandler says: "So 30 percent of the folks that would potentially be eligible for benefits aren't applying for whatever reason."
And that's about 11 million dollars that Klamath County is leaving on the counter. And Jim Wells notes that the stamps that are being used are helping to keep the Portland Street Market open...
"These times, yes - anything helps to keep you open."
Klamath County has received over 158 million dollars in food stamp benefits over the past decade. Statistics show that about a third of those receiving food stamp benefits are unemployed. Nearly half of those eating meals from food stamps are 17 and under.
Technically, the food stamp program is now known as 'SNAP' - which stands for the 'Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program'.
KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.
Lyle's job history is quite colorful. He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.
Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience. "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".
When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.