42, 389,619 Americans Received
Food Stamps in August 2010
17% Increase Since August 2009 and
A 50% increase since Fiscal Year 2008
(stock market has launched...do you feel fuller?)
By Sara Murray
The Wall Street Journal
A huge number of American households are still relying on government assistance to buy food as the recession continues to batter families.
Food stamp recipients ticked up in August, children consumed millions of free lunches and nearly five million low-income mothers tapped into a government nutrition program for women and young children.
Some 42,389,619 Americans received food stamps in August, a 17% rise from the same time a year ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which tracks the data. That number is up 58.5% from August 2007, before the recession began.
By population, Washington, D.C. had the largest share of residents receiving food stamps: More than a fifth, 21.1%, of its residents collected assistance in August. Washington was followed by Mississippi, where 20.1% of residents received food stamps, and Tennessee, where 20% tapped into the government nutrition program.
Idaho posted the largest jump in recipients in the past year. The number of people receiving food stamps climbed 38.8% but their rolls are still fairly low. Just 211,883 Idaho residents collected food stamps in August.
The average benefit size per person nationwide in August was $133.90. Per household it was $287.82.
Food stamps have become a lifeline for workers who have lost their jobs, particularly among the growing share of unemployed Americans who have also exhausted their unemployment benefits. Lines at grocers at midnight on the first of the month have signaled that, in many cases, those benefits aren’t tiding families over and they run out before their next check kicks in.
Even during the summer children returned to schools to take advantage of free lunch programs where they were available. Nearly 195 million lunches were dished out in August and 58.9% of them were free. Another 8.4% were available at reduced prices. That number will surge when the fall data are released because children will be back in school. Last September, for example, more than 590 million lunches were served, nearly 64% of which were free or reduced price.
Children whose families have incomes at or below 130% of the poverty level — $28,665 for a family of four — can access free meals. Those families earning between 130% and 185% of the poverty level — $40,793 for a four-person family — are eligible for reduced-price meals that can’t cost more than 40 cents.