The latest data from the USDA shows that 46.4 million people, or just under 15 percent of all Americans, are on food stamps. And while those numbers might sound incredibly high, food stamp usage has actually been on the decline in recent years, down 1.6 million since December 2012. And last August, more than 15 percent of Americans were on SNAP (the new federal food stamps program).
But even though the latest data shows this small dip in food stamp usage, the reality is that since 2009, SNAP usage has risen dramatically. Since 2009, which marked the end of the Great Recession, the number of people who rely on food stamps has increased by 14,000,000. And going even further back, in the last two decades, the number of Americans on food stamps has nearly doubled in size. So even though for the moment, SNAP usage seems to be on a slight downward spiral, there’s still a long way to go before the vast majority of Americans are self-sufficient again.
According to the Wall Street Journal, despite this small accomplishment, experts expect the number of SNAP participants to keep falling, largely because American incomes are growing, and more and more would-be SNAP participants are not eligible. There also may be trouble on the horizon as the controversial farm bill passed earlier this year that cut millions in funds from SNAP. But luckily the cuts will only affect Michigan, Wisconsin, New Jersey and New Hampshire.
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Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter@JoannaFantozzi