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Big Island sees drop in food stamp participation

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HILO, Hawaii >> The number of food stamp recipients on Hawaii island declined slightly in 2017.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports data from the Hawaii Department of Human Services says while 37,964 people on the Big Island benefited from the federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program — commonly referred to as food stamps — by the end of November 2016, only 37,349 did so by the same time in 2017.

The decline reflects an ongoing trend in program participation since 2015. An average of nearly 40,000 people per month benefited from the program on the island that year.

The data shows $9,113,778 in benefits was distributed to island residents in 2017, with each participant receiving an average of $244.02 per person.

Total program participants dropped statewide from 148,848 in 2016 to 142,616 in 2017.

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