The New York Times reports that one in eight Americans—that’s 12.5%—are currently on food stamps. That’s a lot of people. But consider this: one in four children in the United States are on food stamps.
Thats 25% of all the children in the Land of Plenty.
[Food stamp use] has grown so rapidly in places so diverse that it is becoming nearly as ordinary as the groceries it buys. More than 36 million people use inconspicuous plastic cards for staples like milk, bread and cheese, swiping them at counters in blighted cities and in suburbs pocked with foreclosure signs.
Virtually all have incomes near or below the federal poverty line, but their eclectic ranks testify to the range of people struggling with basic needs. They include single mothers and married couples, the newly jobless and the chronically poor, longtime recipients of welfare checks and workers whose reduced hours or slender wages leave pantries bare.
While the numbers have soared during the recession, the path was cleared in better times when the Bush administration led a campaign to erase the program’s stigma, calling food stamps “nutritional aid” instead of welfare, and made it easier to apply. That bipartisan effort capped an extraordinary reversal from the 1990s, when some conservatives tried to abolish the program, Congress enacted large cuts and bureaucratic hurdles chased many needy people away.
From the ailing resorts of the Florida Keys to Alaskan villages along the Bering Sea, the program is now expanding at a pace of about 20,000 people a day.
Twenty thousand more people a day eating because of food stamps. According to an analysis by the New York Times, there are 239 counties in the United States where at least a quarter of the population receives food stamps.
We’re not out of the woods yet.
The Bush Legacy continues.