Earlier this week, while reporting on a new Slate food stamp widget, I learned that there appears to have been an increase in the number of Hildale residents on food stamps. And now I’ve received the Colorado City data, displayed in the chart above.
The chart provides numbers from July 2011 to February 2012. During that time, an average of 445.85 food stamp cases per month were filed. The average number of food stamp recipients during that same time period was 3,942.1. Cases can represent groups or families.
According to the 2010 census, the population of Colorado City is 4,821. So, assuming that number remains more or less accurate, that means roughly 82 percent of the population in Colorado City is receiving food stamps each month. As was the case in Hildale, this appears to be a big jump in the number of food stamp cases from a few years ago when the Tribune’s Brooke Adams reported on the topic.
This is all just raw data and therefore only says so much. It doesn’t tell us why any of this might be happening. Back in March, for example, Trent Nelson reported that FLDS kids were apparently restricted to a diet of beans and water. Are food stamps being used to improve that diet? We can only speculate because so far, we haven’t found a source that can definitively tell us.
In addition, none of this data delves into the distribution of FLDS polygamists, non-FLDS polygamists, and non-polygamists in these communities. In other words, at this point we simply know that a couple of towns that receive a lot of food stamps also include many members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We don’t know what kind of overlap there may be between the recipient group and the polygamist groups.
Still, I think this data is fascinating and tells a slice of the story of these towns. I hope to continue following this topic and will update as I find more.
Jim Dalrymple II