The 2014 U.S. Census Bureau’s survey on America’s Family and Living Arrangements has revealed a startling statistic: approximately 20 percent of children, or 16 million youths under the age of 18, are on food stamps, a number that has doubled since the start of the Great Recession in 2007. The statistic provides a window into the often hidden world of child hunger and poverty in the United States. Prior to the recession, approximately one in eight children received federal food assistance, or roughly 9 million children.
Furthermore, in every single type of household, the number of children on food stamps has increased steadily since the start of the recession in 2007, despite the fact that the recession technically ended in 2009. The households that showed the sharpest increase in children on SNAP assistance were those with two unmarried parents present (which jumped to a 39 percent food assistance rate this year), and households with no parent present (which jumped to 32 percent this year).
Out of the 16 million children on food stamps, 14.7 million under the age of 18 are living in poverty, exceeding the population of 12 U.S. states combined, according to Reuters (Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming).
The original purpose of SNAP, which was put into effect in the early 1990s, was to act as a safety net for single adults, not for families with children, according to Reuters.