More than 36 million Americans — one of every eight adults and one of every four children — rely on food stamps in order to eat, and those numbers will likely grow.
“I think the response of the program has been tremendous,” Kevin Concannon, an undersecretary of agriculture, told The New York Times, “but we’re mindful that there are another 15, 16 million who could benefit.”
Government figures show that nationwide, food stamps reach only about two-thirds of those eligible to receive them, with rates ranging from 50 percent of Californians to 98 percent of those who live in Missouri.
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Virtually all recipients have incomes near or below the federal poverty line.
While food-stamp use is greatest where poverty runs deep, growth has been especially swift in once-prosperous places hard hit by the housing bust.
The number of recipients has risen by at least two-thirds in 205 U.S. counties, and doubled in about 50 small counties and a dozen sizable ones in the last two years.
That so many Americans are now using food stamps is only one indication that the Obama administration’s economic policies aren’t working, says Howard Schweber, assistant professor of political science and law at the University of Wisconsin.
“The bailout was supposed to get credit flowing again, which was supposed to get small businesses back on their feet, which would then stimulate employment,” Schweber writes in The Huffington Post.
“It didn't work, because that's not what the banks chose to do with the money.”
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