US food stamps set ever-higher record-32.8 million

A record 38.2 million Americans were enrolled in the food stamp program at latest count, up 246,000 from the previous month and the latest in record-high monthly tallies that began in December 2008. Food stamps are the primary federal anti-hunger program, helping poor people buy groceries. The Agriculture Department updated enrollment data on Friday with a preliminary figure for November. USDA estimates up to $58 billion will be spent on food stamps this fiscal year, which ends Sept 30, with average enrollment of 40.5 million people. Food stamps were renamed the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program in 2008. Participation has surged since the financial-market turmoil of late 2008 and has set records each month since December 2008, when it reached 31.78 million. Enrollment is highest during times of economic distress.


The two charts below show the same thing.  The first is monthly going back about 5 years and the second is yearly back to the start of the program in 1969.

<Click on chart for larger image>

<Click on chart for larger image>

Category: Economy

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

23 Responses to “Food Stamps – The Great Recession’s Soup Lines”

  1. johnborchers says:

    The images are dead on my display.

    Major news though:
    *DJ S&P Downgrade On Citigroup Reflects Uncertainty Over U.S. Support

    *DJ S&P Downgrade Of Bank Of Amer Reflects Uncertainty About U.S. Support

  2. martin66 says:

    No charts BR


    BR: Fixed !


  3. You know the country is over regulated when the government requires that you have stamps just to mail your food!

  4. Mannwich says:

    But some commenters here would opine that those folks are actually “wealthy” because they have a microwave oven, a flat screen tv and I-thingy’s all over the house, but none yet actually paid for…….

  5. call me ahab says:

    manny- from your link-

    “If Obama really were serious about restoring America’s economic health, he would demand military spending be slashed, quickly end the Iraq and Afghan wars and break up the nation’s giant Frankenbanks.”

    my libertarian leanings agree with this wholeheartedly-

    my only qualms are- what would be the result of worldwide USA retrenchment and base closings- and what to do with the displaced “warriors”-

    could cause global conflagrations-

    a power vacuum and wars likley

  6. Blurtman says:

    I assume that the last of the W bumperstickers have been removed in shame from the cars and trucks of the “real Americans.” who voted for that disaster.

    Really, if you voted for George W, what were you thinking?

  7. dcsos says:


    And the Government no long adminsters food stamps!
    JP MORGAN CHASE issues you credit card.
    Smart Investors can now invest in the rise of the food stamp population!

  8. jjay says:

    Ahab, if we brought all the troops home and kept them on the payroll it would be better than having them overseas.
    1) They would be spending their money over here, for food, base infrastructure, etc.
    2) The loss of American military protection and dollars spent overseas would strengthen the Dollar.
    3) It would probably help our arms exports a great deal as Japan, Germany, UK would need to beef up their forces.
    The government is never going to really shrink the defense spending short of bankruptcy anyway, so at least keep the money thrown in the wind over here.

  9. deanscamaro says:

    What would really make the picture even more telling is an overlay line of U.S. population (if it could be made to fit), so that the relationship between the population versus number of the population on food stamps and it would probably show that the percentage is increasing over time.

  10. beaufou says:

    war is bad for the economy when you start it or if you fight it on your own soil.
    What do you think Cheney and Co were hoping for when screwing around with Georgia and its mafia government (they failed because Georgia is a shithole nobody cares about), divide and conquer, other countries at war is good for the economy.
    Those assholes never read The Prince?

  11. Mannwich says:

    @beaufou: One word: hubris (with a dash of stupidity and greed).

  12. Casual Onlooker says:

    @deanscamaro I agree. The numbers should also be adjusted for inflation. Food prices in the 70′s are nowhere near what they are today. (if they are adjusted, it’s not apparent from the graphs)

  13. Chuck Ponzi says:

    Yes, why aren’t the graphs population-adjusted and inflation adjusted? That will tell us if things are really that much worse, or if it’s really just a bunch of whiners here.


  14. US soldiers should be guarding the Mexican border, not the Iraqi one!

  15. Transor Z says:

    The “stamps” are now debit cards you can swipe at the grocery store checkout. Minimizes the stigma and improves convenience.

  16. erm says:

    I was curious about the percentage of population using foodstamps as well. I got together the foodstamp data and census pop. history and projections. In a nutshell, 11% of the population is on foodstamps in 2009, the highest percentage ever.

    The percentage on foodstamps goes nearly straight up from 1.4% in 1969 to 8.5% by 1976. From there, the percentage vacillates between 7% and 10%, with 1994 being a new high of 10.6%. From there, the percentage drops to 6.1% in 2000/01 before resuming its upward trend.

  17. tagyoureit says:

    As a kid, I used to love those slow motion multi-car wrecks on CHiPs. Now, not so much…

  18. DL says:

    The one bailout that I approve of.

  19. flipspiceland says:

    Look for that blue line to continue ever upward. As long as we live.

    Until there arises from the smoldering ashes a phoenix from the conflagration that Wall Street saw fit to set off, a maelstrom of pernicious financial toxicity, bestowing upon the world a set of atomic bombs known as Collateral default swaps and their ilk, there will be no choice but for government to carry the
    ball by transferring from producers to non-producers.

    That the truly wealthy escape the transfer, there will be a hydra-headed effort to move many members of the middle class further down the totem pole. Look for housing interest and taxes to be phased out of the deductions, and other hidden taxes on the middle.

    Two generations minimum of going nowhere but gradually backwards. Kids moving in with parents after party school educations prove worthless, nay, nothing but a drain on the family income, many more bankruptcies, falling real estate values, much less discretionary income, and a whole host of other ‘adjustments’.

  20. deanscamaro says:

    Thanks for that assessment about the population. Gee, things are getting worse!?!? Just as I suspected. I think that is an assessment of the skill/impact of our politicians. As they work at their jobs, they constantly make things worse in the economy.

  21. [...] Big Picture  Print This Post Category: CPA Continuing Education, Economic Ethics, Risk & [...]

  22. braudis says:

    The food stamps, in conjunction with J.P.Morgan/Chase is just part of the plan: to create an economy that is sustained by debt. The bailouts, war, the devaluation of the dollar create debt. That debt incurs never-ending principal and interest payable to The Fed. Keep your eye on Bernanke and Bank of America. Watch the magic in 2010.

  23. [...] The Big Picture financial blog: Last month, a record-high 38.2 million people were enrolled in the food stamp [...]