A record number of Americans are now receiving food stamps from a $64 billion program the USDA says provides a significant boost to local economies
A record number of Americans are now receiving food stamps from a $64 billion program the USDA says provides a significant boost to local economies.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program may be helping a growing number of families yet to recover from the Recession, but it has also been targeted for $2 billion in budget cuts proposed by GOP legislations attempting to reduce the record $14.3 billion federal deficit.
More than 44.5 million Americans received food stamps in March, an 11 percent year-over-year increase and a 61 percent jump from March 2007, according to the latest data from the USDA.
As the number of food stamp users increased, so did the number of retailers participating in the program. From 2006 through 2010 the number of participating outlets grew nearly 34 percent. In 2010 alone, 23,000 retailers – an annual increase of 12 percent – were added to the program for a total of 216, 738. The Southeast, West and Midwest saw the biggest increases.
Food stamp redemptions have increased more than 430 percent since 2000 when redemptions were just under $14 billion, reported the USDA, which administers SNAP.
“It is important to note that SNAP also provides a significant boost to local economies,” said the USDA. For every $5.00 in new SNAP benefits, up to $9.00 is generated in total economic activity.”
About 14.5 percent of Americans now use food stamps compared to 26 million – less than 9 percent of the population – in February 2007, the USDA said. The maximum monthly allotment for a family of four is $668 for 2011. To qualify, a family must generally have less than $2,000 in assets and a gross monthly income not exceeding 130 percent of the federal poverty level. That would be $2,380 for a family of four. Special rules apply to the elderly and disabled.
SNAP currently serves about one in seven American’s in the first line of defense against hunger, said the USDA in a prepared statement.