A food stamp in every pot

The recession may technically be over, but record numbers of Americans need federal help to buy groceries

Published February 9, 2010 7:52PM (EST)

As of last November, a record 38.2 million Americans were enrolled in the federal food stamp program (now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) according to figures released by the United States Department of Agriculture  last Friday. (Thanks to The Big Picture for the link.)

That's one in eight Americans, and one in four children. During a fiscal quarter in which American GDP grew by 6 percent, the number of people joining the food stamp program was growing by more than 200,000 a month. And we have yet to reach the peak.

In President Obama's Fiscal Year 2011 budget unveiled two weeks ago, the White House predicted that the number of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) beneficiaries would rise from 40.5 million people in fiscal year 2010 to 43.3 million in fiscal year 2011.

Forty-three million people on food stamps in the United States of America.

AgWeek reports that the cost of the program will rise from $68.5 billion to $78.8 billion to account for the new food stamp recipients.

That's what's known as non-discretionary social welfare spending. The worse the economy gets, the more the government has to pay. The Obama administration also wants to increase USDA spending on child nutrition, while cutting subsidies to big farmers and crop insurance payouts. But as AgWeek's Jerry Hagstrom reports, "the president's budget is only a proposal, and both House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., said they had no interest in cutting farm bill programs. "

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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