New record--again--on food stamps

A lot of folks, mouth agape, may have been tracking the stock market for the last few days. Some are eyeballing employment data looking for an indication that the nation may finally be resetting on more secure economic footing. One economic-ish statistic which may have gone unnoticed today was tracked by Reuters at least: The number of U.S. citizens receiving food stamps has risen to an all-time high of 40 million people. It's another in a string of record setting months that began trending up in December 2008.

According to Reuters:

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The Agriculture Department said 39.68 million people, or 1 in 8 Americans, were enrolled for food stamps during February, an increase of 260,000 from January. USDA updated its figures on Wednesday.

"This is the highest share of the U.S. population on SNAP/food stamps," said the anti-hunger group Food Research and Action Center, using the new name for food stamps, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). "Research suggests that one in three eligible people are not receiving ... benefits."

Enrollment has set a record each month since reaching 31.78 million in December 2008. USDA estimates enrollment will average 40.5 million people this fiscal year, which ends Sept 30, at a cost of up to $59 billion. For fiscal 2011, average enrollment is forecast for 43.3 million people.

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Tom Maher
8 years ago
The hugh increase in SNAP (food stamp) program receipiants since late 2008 is very worthwhile to report on. A clearer piicture of what is going on in the economcy is gained.

The unemploymnet index is not a true indication of the extent of total unemploymnet since ''discouraged'' workers - workers who have stopped looking for jobs becasue there are no jobs to be found - are removed from the unemployment index. The unemployment index counts only more recently unemployed and leaves out the cumulative number of people who are laid off and have not found new jobs. So the the increase in SNAP would better reflects in part the total number of people out of work.

The SNAP porgram increase may also have an increase in elderly who have been impacted by the decrease in savings rates. Part of many elderly bugdets is the the interest income they earn from savings such as Certificate of Deposits. Interests rates given the cheap money policy of the federal reserves has drop drastically since 2008 to under 1%, often close to no interest. Previously savings rates were many times higher. Earnings from interest income is now negligible and results in a sharp loss of income the elederly rely on to pay their bills. The SNAP program would be a likely alternate way of paying for food costs which have continued to go up.
Mike Evans
8 years ago
What is not stated is the huge increase in families seeking help from local food banks and pantries. It is those whose lives have been devastated through long term unemployment, through severe cuts to welfare, SSI and elder care programs, and are suffering from constant rises in housing, utility, gas and health care costs. Food stamps are their survival tool but in many areas, the local state and county bureaucracy makes it extremely difficult to qualify. We are instead blaming the victim smug in our own comforts.
John Raymer
8 years ago
I am glad that charity is a virtue. The government is helping me live a most virtuous life right now. Maybe some of that virtue will help me overcome my vice of pride in being self sufficient. Next we can work on my pride in being an American.

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