Government shows increase of 700,000 food stamp recipients in a single month.
March 5, 2009: 4:00 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- A record 31.8 million Americans received food stamps at the latest count, an increase of 700,000 people in one month with the United States in recession, government figures showed Thursday.
Food stamps, which help poor people buy groceries, are the major U.S. anti-hunger program, forecast to cost at least $51 billion in this fiscal year ending Sept. 30, up $10 billion from fiscal 2008.
"A weakened economy means that many more individuals are turning to SNAP/food stamps," said the Food Research and Action Center. Last summer food stamps were renamed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
0:00 /04:12Living on food stamps
The average food stamp benefit is $115 a month for individuals and $255 a month per household.
Enrollment for food stamps in December was up 2.2% from the previous month with increases in all but three states. Ohio had the largest increase among large states, up 3.4%, to 1.26 million people. Texas had the largest enrollment, 3.05 million, up 1.8%.
The previous record for food stamp enrollment was 31.6 million last September, which included "disaster" stamps for states hit by hurricanes and floods.