NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Private Aid Supplanting Food Stamps

November 14, 2001

More needy Americans now get food from charities over the course of a year than participate in the federal government's food stamp program, according to a survey commissioned by the private food-aid group Second Harvest.

  • Emergency feeding sites around the country serve more than 7 million people in a given week and more than 23 million people at some point in the course of a year obtain food from food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters.
  • Four years ago, the figure was 21.4 million.
  • About 17.7 million people availed themselves of food stamps -- a drop from the 21.9 million who received food stamps in 1997.
  • But the food stamp program still provides far more food in a given year than the private food emergency network.

The survey also revealed that women account for nearly two-thirds of adults receiving emergency food aid. Nearly half of households receiving aid included children.

People receiving food stamps made up nearly one-third of those seeking emergency food aid. They said the stamps covered only half their monthly need, on average.

Source: Elizabeth Becker, "Shift From Food Stamps to Private Aid Widens," New York Times, November 14, 2001; based on "Hunger in America 2001," November 2001, Second Harvest.


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