By Ladd Egan(KUTV) Observers say it€™s another sign of worsening conditions in the polygamous communities on the Utah/Arizona border: an increase in food stamp cases. In January, 2008 there were 816 individuals receiving government food assistance in Hildale, Utah. That number has more than doubled, according to the most recent data from March of this year that indicate 1,713 recipients. Latest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau put the population of Hildale at 2,805. Using that population number, over 61% of residents in Hildale are receiving food stamp benefits; compared to the state average of about 9% of Utahns on food stamps. On the Arizona side, the most current food stamp information available for Colorado City is from February of this year. It indicates 3,928 recipients of what Arizona calls €œSupplemental Nutrition Assistance,€ according to the AZ Department of Economic Security. When compared to the city€™s total population, estimated at 4,858, nearly 81% of Colorado City residents are receiving food assistance from the government; compared to just 17% of the total Arizona population receiving aid. Arizona puts the monthly pricetag of food assistance to Colorado City at over 0,000.€œThe food stamp situation is what they would technically call €˜bleeding the beast,€™€ said Ed Kociela, author of the book €œPlygs.€ As a journalist and author, Kociela has followed the polygamous communities of Hildale and Colorado City for two decades. He says members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints view their high-usage of government assistance as retribution for past government intervention and raids. €œA typical plural family out there has say five wives, five kids each; we€™re looking at a little more than ,000 a month per family,€ Kociela said his research has shown. Koceila says it€™s easy for polygamous families to take advantage of the system due to the fact that the women in plural marriages are considered single moms in the eyes of the government.€œThere€™s no documentation with the state, there€™s no way of saying that this woman is part of a plural marriage,€ he said. €œWhen a child is born into one of these plural marriages it€™s €˜father€™s name unknown,€™ which immediately kicks them up as they go through the benefits program.€Statewide, Utah has seen food stamp cases increase dramatically since 2008. In the peak in early 2012, Utah had 280,480 food stamp recipients, or about 10% of the state’s population. The current combined average for Colorado City and Hildale is 73% of residents on food stamps. €œWe saw the increase in those numbers from the recession,€ said Nic Dunn with the Utah Department of Workforce Services. €œThere is a clear leveling off in food stamp counts and even a reduction recently and that is indicative of a stronger and growing economy,€ Dunn said of Utah as a whole. €œMore people are finding jobs.€The number of cases and recipients of food stamps in Colorado City and Hildale have not yet shown any signs of a downward trajectory. (Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)