Food Stamp Hotline takes a steady voice and quick mind

People are hungry out there. At least that’s the impression operators at the Telephone Exchange get after answering calls for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Stamp Hotline.

Public service announcements on the radio or television steer people to the toll-free number. Oper

“Most of the people who call are eligible,” he said.ator Alfonso Lemus said call traffic increases with each ad campaign.

The Exchange pre-screens callers, asking them about income, children per housebold and other questions. With that information, operators determine if a caller qualifies for food stamps. Lemus pulled up the system and fed numbers into various fields showing how it works. It took him seconds to determine a fictional character qualified for $300 a month.

The service is coordinated through the Fresno Metro Ministry, an interfaith and ecumenical organization that works for health care access, food security and a better community.

Once it is determined that a person qualifies, they are given instruction on where to apply.

The Telephone Exchange serves about 800 clients from medical and law offices to plumbing and pool services and government agencies. For more information, call (559) 244-2523.