Five financial institutions that sold food stamps to more than 11,000 District of Columbia residents each monthe recently stopped selling them, forcing the purchasers to travel a minimum of one to four miles to purchase food stamps.
The five locations closed down because of management problems and a reluctance to sell food stamps in 1979, Department of Human Resource officials said.
The locations no longer selling food stamps are Maison National Bank at 1730 M St. NW; McLachlen National Bank at 400 12th St. SW; Security National Bank at 925 H St. NW; Anaocstia Federal Credit Union at 1348 Good Hope Fr. SE and Armstrong Federal Credit Union at 1502 North Capitol St. NW.
Spokesmen for the institutions said they were unable to continue the service because of personnel shortages and overcrowded facilities.
In 1978, 49,000 D.C. households received food stamps. There are 51 locations throughout the city where the stamps can still be purchased.
In Jan. 10 more locations are expected to stop selling food stamps, DHR director Albert P. Russo said. At that time, the American Security Bank has threatened to stop selling food stamps at 10 of its branches that sell them to nearly 1,000 people unless DHR meets certain conditions, Russo said. One of the conditions is that the bank receive $2.25, instead of $1 which they now get for each food stamp purchase, Russo said.
Russo said the rate was set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and can be changed only by USDA.
Grady Williams, chief of DHR's payments and collections bureau, said January food stamp cards have already been written authorizing nearly 1,000 clients to pick up their food stamps at the 10 American Security branches. It is too late to change them, Williams said.
Williams said more people are expected to use food stamps in January because they will no longer be required to purchase them. Presently food stamp clients must buy the stamps. New federal food stamp regulations, beginning in 1979, remove the purchase requirement for eligible clients, he said.
"We are in desperate need of additional food stamp vendors," Russo said. "There are too many food stamp clients in this city who have to either walk, or ride, too far and too long to get their food stamps because we do not have the type of public attitude that should prevail in this city and does not."
Russo said attempts by DHR to get local churches, post offices and fire stations to sell the stamps have been unsuccessful.