One in seven Americans, or about 45 million, were on food stamps in 2011, a record year, the Congressional Budget Office reports.
Most people who received food stamp benefits, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), lived in low-income households bringing in $8,800 per year on average.
The cost of the program came to $75 billion last year.
"On average, 45 million people received SNAP benefits each month in fiscal year 2011, which represents a 70 percent increase over the roughly 26 million people (or one of every 11) who received benefits in 2007," the CBO says in the report.
"Outlays for SNAP benefits (not including administrative costs) more than doubled during that period, from about $30 billion to $72 billion," the report adds.
Blame the economy for the increase.
"The primary reason for the increase in the number of participants was the deep recession from December 2007 to June 2009 and the subsequent slow recovery; there were no significant legislative expansions of eligibility for the program during that time."
House Republicans say the program is too big and want to cut its budget.
Cuts to SNAP spending would total $8 billion over the coming year and $34 billion over a decade under Republican proposals, the Associated Press reports.
Some lawmakers says people are abusing the system.
"We're closing loopholes, reducing waste and abuse, and increasing the integrity of the program by insuring (food stamps) serves only those households who qualify for the program," says Representative Frank Lucas, an Oklahoma Republican, the AP adds.
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