I could talk about the food stamp issue once a month, but as the recovery gains steam, I prefer to only speak about it when we hit important milestones.  Believe it or not, when I began FMMF in 2007, only 1 in 11 of our citizens was on foodstamps.  [May 7, 2008: 1 in 11 Americans on Food Stamps]  We passed many milestones during the Great Recession... 1 in 10, 1 in 9 [Jun 8, 2009: 1 in 9 Americans on Food Stamps] ... and finally in the throes of recovery we hit 1 in 8... with 1 in 4 American children in the program.  [Nov 29, 2009: 1 in 4 Children, and 1 in 8 Americans Now on Food Stamps]

I know it is hard to believe in a country where we measure our progress based on how the stock market does, how many Coach bags the average upper middle class woman owns, or what aggregate GDP figures say, but things are pretty awful for a large part of society.  After crossing the 1 in 8 threshold last Thanksgiving, just over a year later we are sniffing at 1 in 7 (which would be approximately 14.25% of all citizens) per the WSJ

The bifurcation of American society continues at pace.   [Nov 10, 2009: Walmart Executive There are Families Not Eating at the End of the Month]   Definitely a fascinating society we are creating.... the social implications in the long run are compelling.  We joke about Americans not being engaged and why we do not have protests in the street about what is happening in this country, like those crazy Europeans.  Aside from being busy with the circus (Dancing with the Stars, NFL, et al) ... we are also offered bread.  If you want to see those sort of public movements, take away programs like food stamp.  When the desperation kicks in, you would see some serious game changing fireworks  [Dec 8, 2007: Do the Bottom 80% of Americans Stand a Chance? [Sep 7, 2009: Citigroup - America; A Modern Day Plutonomy]

  • More people tapped food stamps to pay for groceries in September as the recession and lackluster recovery have prompted more Americans to turn to government safety net programs to make ends meet.
  • Some 42.9 million people collected food stamps last month, up 1.2% from the prior month and 16.2% higher than the same time a year ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 
  • Nationwide 14% of the population relied on food stamps as of September but in some states the percentage was much higher. In Washington, D.C., Mississippi and Tennessee – the states with the largest share of citizens receiving benefits – more than a fifth of the population in each was collecting food stamps.

Anyhow, per the 'wealth effect' plan, we're all gonna get rich via the stock market bubble Ben is inflating, so no problemo. [Nov 10, 2010: Who Will Any Form of Intermediate Term Wealth Effect Really Help? Not the Masses]   The irony of my piece on November 10th is borne out by the fact that the 6 of the 10 counties ringing Washington D.C. are the country's richest, as our federal government spend as if there is no tomorrow.  But Washington D.C. itself has more than 1 in 5 citizens on food stamps.

Food Stamp Use, by State

Click on the top of any column to resort the chart.

State   Number of people on food stamps Sept. 2010   Year-over-year change   Month-over-month change   Percent of population on food stamps   
U.S. total 42,911,042 16.2%1.2%14%
Alabama849,78512.8%1.2%18%
Alaska81,19615.4%-0.1%11.6%
Arizona1,044,41010.9%-0.3%15.8%
Arkansas483,3098.4%0.7%16.7%
California3,466,97417.7%1.2%9.4%
Colorado424,87816.8%0.1%8.5%
Connecticut364,34122.8%1.4%10.4%
Delaware124,75521.9%2.6%14.1%
District of Columbia128,75916.4%1.7%21.5%
Florida2,881,01925.8%2.5%15.5%
Georgia1,693,97616.4%0.7%17.2%
Hawaii147,25015.7%1.2%11.4%
Idaho214,37839.1%1.2%13.9%
Illinois1,839,05118.6%8.5%14.2%
Indiana857,99213.3%0.6%13.4%
Iowa352,16410.9%0%11.7%
Kansas291,12618%0.6%10.3%
Kentucky804,5388.7%-0.1%18.6%
Louisiana864,11210.3%0.9%19.2%
Maine237,5309.6%0.1%18%
Maryland616,10220.4%1.5%10.8%
Massachusetts785,43512.2%1%11.9%
Michigan1,884,75115.2%0.4%18.9%
Minnesota455,85217.2%0.7%8.7%
Mississippi601,4328.7%1.1%20.4%
Missouri928,1837.9%0.1%15.5%
Montana119,03915.8%0.1%12.2%
Nebraska169,38514.5%td>0%9.4%
Nevada314,25328.7%1.5%11.9%
New Hampshire110,57620.4%0.6%8.3%
New Jersey690,07527.2%1.9%7.9%
New Mexico390,15420.1%0.6%19.4%
New York2,895,99513.3%0.8%14.8%
North Carolina1,476,20718.2%2.3%15.7%
North Dakota61,2297.1%0.3%9.5%
Ohio1,683,87711.9%0.8%14.6%
Oklahoma613,53114%0.9%16.6%
Oregon738,70213.2%0.7%19.3%
Pennsylvania1,644,25913.2%0.3%13%
Rhode Island150,45026%1.3%14.3%
South Carolina832,65111.3%0.3%18.3%
South Dakota99,50414.9%0%12.2%
Tennessee1,267,4788%0.5%20.1%
Texas3,837,83924.6%0.9%15.5%
Utah269,81925.9%3.8%9.7%
Vermont87,8387.7%1%14.1%
Virginia826,27713.8%0.7%10.5%
Washington1,006,51816.4%0.8%15.1%
West Virginia343,7645.1%-0.6%18.9%
Wisconsin762,28721.3%0.6%13.5%
Wyoming35,61517.2%0.2%6.5%
Sources: USDA, WSJ Research

[Nov 5, 2010: USA Today: Anti-Poverty Programs Surpass Cost of Medicare in US]

 [May 25, 2010: 1 in 5.5 Dollars of American Income Now Via Government; All time High]

[Oct 22, 2010: Reuters - The Haves, the Have Nots, and the Dreamless Dead]

[Sep 3, 2010: FT.com - The Crisis in Middle America]

[July 26, 2010: [Video] DatelineNBC - America's Increasing Ranks of Poor]