Monday, December 10, 2012

Food Stamp Use Skyrockets...Again: Record 607,559 Americans Added To Rolls In September

More than 47.7 million citizens received federal aid; Spending between August and September had single highest spike in history, too...
The number of Americans receiving Food Stamps has spiked once again, but this time the increase is staggering: 47,710,324 citizens received benefits at a cost of $6,407,024,21, according to newly released Department of Agriculture figures for the month of September, the latest month for which data is available.  607,559 people were added to the rolls between August and September, the highest increase in beneficiaries in a single month during President Obama's first term in office.

Spending increased by more than $123 million between August and September, in contrast to a spending increase of $19.6* million between July and August.  The number is also a record setter.

USDA released the figures for what is officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) after the close of business on Friday.

Last month's figures, the second highest for the Obama Administration in enrollment and single-month increase in spending, were released after Election Day, in a deviation from the USDA's practice of issuing the numbers at the beginning or very end of each month.  September's dramatic uptick came as President Obama was in the final weeks of his reelection campaign, reassuring Americans with a narrative that the economy was in recovery.

More than 15.72 million people have been added to the SNAP rolls since President Obama was inaugurated in January of 2009.

The number of households enrolled in SNAP also increased from 22,684,463 in August to 22,973,698 in September.  The average benefit, according to the new data, was $134.29 per person and $278.89 per household.  Texas, California, and Florida were the states with the most recipients.

Cuts to the federal nutrition safety net are currently part of the ongoing and contentious fiscal cliff negotiations between the President and Congress.  President Obama travels to Detroit, MI on Monday to continue to pitch his plan, with an event at Daimler Detroit Diesel.

The SNAP numbers for September include disaster assistance for the states of Mississippi and Louisiana, USDA noted, but not for Hurricane Sandy.  The superstorm made landfall on the East Coast in the last week of October. 

31.9 million people were enrolled in SNAP when President Obama was inaugurated in January of 2009, with monthly spending at $3.63 billion.  Participation in the program has remained above 46 million people for all of fiscal year 2012, with annual federal spending for Food Stamps more than doubling over four years to a record $75.7 billion in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2011. 

The September spike follows on the heels of the second-highest spike in numbers during the Obama Administration in spending and enrollment between July and August, when 420,863* citizens were added to the rolls.

USDA documents say that most beneficiaries leave the program after ten months.  About 47% of Food Stamp recipients are children, according to USDA, and 8% are elderly.

*USDA has updated its preliminary figures for August posted last month, and recorded different  numbers in November. 

*Photo by Pete Souza/White House