Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Recession drives food-stamp use to record levels; here are county-by-county data, interactive map

The recession means that the once-scorned federal program to help Americans buy food is being used more than ever. Food stamps now help feed one in eight Americans and one in four children, Jason DeParle and Robert Gebeloff of The New York Times report. While the recession has helped fuel the increased food stamp use, a Bush administration decision to make it easier to apply for "nutritional aid" instead of welfare cleared the path for increased use.

More than 36 million Americans now use food stamps, or as the previous administration renamed it, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. In at least 239 counties, a quarter or more of the people get food stamps, many in rural areas but also in cities. In 62 counties, the number of recipients has more than doubled since 2007. While once-prosperous areas where the housing bust has hit are experiencing increased usage, the areas where poverty runs deepest still have the highest rates, the Times reports.

Even with food stamp usage at a record level, experts say there are millions more who could qualify for them. "I think the response of the program has been tremendous," Kevin Concannon, an undersecretary of agriculture, told the reporters, "but we’re mindful that there are another 15, 16 million who could benefit." In California food stamps reach only 50 percent of those eligible, while in Missouri 98 percent of the eligible have nutritional aid. (Read more)

Click on the map below to see the NYT full size interactive version; the accompanying chart can be re-sorted by clicking on the header of a category, such as the rate of increase in the last two years. The Daily Yonder has a breakdown of the NYT data, including a chart with state-by-state information. States where the percentage of rural residents on food stamps was at least half again as much as the state’s urban figure: Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, South Carolina, Virginia and Vermont.


Chrystal K. said...

I've been trying to get foodstamps myself.

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