SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

September 14, 2012

More using Food Stamps

Food-stamp use climbs to record levels

By Alan Bjerga BLOOMBERG NEWS

WASHINGTON — Food-stamp use reached a record 46.7 million people in June, the government said Tuesday, as Democrats prepare to nominate President Barack Obama for a second term with the economy as a chief issue in the campaign.

Participation was up 0.4 percent from May and 3.3 percent higher than a year earlier and has remained above 46 million all year as the unemployment rate stayed higher than 8 percent. New jobless numbers will be released Friday.

“Too many middle-class families who have fallen on hard times are still struggling,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “Our goal is to get these families the temporary assistance they need so they are able to get through these tough times and back on their feet as soon as possible.”
Food-stamp spending, which more than doubled in four years to a record $75.7 billion in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2011, is the Department of Agriculture’s biggest annual expense.   Republicans in Congress have criticized the cost of the program, and the House budget plan approved in April, would cut expenses by $33 billion over 10 years.

Reductions to the program have also emerged as a point of contention in debate over a farm bill to replace current law that expires Sept. 30. The Senate in June passed a plan that would lower expenditures by $4 billion over 10 years, while the House Agriculture Committee the following month backed a $16 billion cut.

Louisiana and North Carolina had the biggest monthly gains in enrollment, 1.3 percent. Enrollment fell the most in Utah, down 1.4 percent from May, followed by Idaho and Ohio.

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