NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Food Stamp Use Climbs to Record

September 5, 2012

Food stamp use reached a record 46.7 million people in June, according to the federal government.

  • Participation was up 0.4 percent from May and 3.3 percent higher than a year earlier, and has remained greater than 46 million all year as the unemployment rate stayed higher than 8 percent.
  • Food stamp spending, which more than doubled in four years to a record $75.7 billion in the fiscal year ended September 30, 2011, is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) biggest annual expense.

Reductions to the program have emerged as a point of contention in debate over a farm bill to replace current law that expires September 30. The U.S. Senate in June passed a plan that would lower expenditures by $4 billion over 10 years, while the House Agriculture Committee the following month backed a $16 billion cut.

The report shows the two most populous states, California and Texas, had the most recipients.

  • California was tops with 4.012 million, a 0.8 percent gain from the previous month and 7.3 percent more than the previous year.
  • Texas was in second place, while down 0.4 percent from the previous month and 1.4 percent lower than a year earlier.
  • Louisiana and North Carolina had the biggest monthly gains in enrollment, 1.3 percent.
  • Enrollment fell the most in Utah, down 1.4 percent from May, followed by Idaho and Ohio.
  • Spending on what's officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program totaled $6.21 billion in June, 0.4 percent higher than the previous month and 2.8 percent more than a year earlier.
  • The record is $6.26 billion spent in September 2011.
  • About 47 percent of recipients are children, and 8 percent are elderly, according to the USDA.
  • About half of all new recipients leave the program within 10 months.

Source: Alan Bjerga, "Food-Stamp Use Climbs to Record, Reviving Campaign Issue," Bloomberg, September 4, 2012.


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