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Contact: Jen Adach, 202-986-2200, jadach@frac.org
Ellen Vollinger, 202.986.2200 x3016, evollinger@frac.org

SNAP/Food Stamp Participation Passes 30 Million Mark in September 2008
One Out of Ten Americans Receiving Benefit; Growth Underscores Need for Congressional Action

Washington, D.C. – December 3, 2008 – SNAP/Food Stamp participation leapt to 31.5 million Americans in September 2008, according to figures released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture yesterday.

According to an analysis by the Food Research and Action Center:

  • The September 2008 increase was driven by economic factors, as well as by the impact of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. From August to September, Louisiana’s caseloads grew a staggering 231 percent – about 1.5 million people – due to Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, as residents turned to Disaster SNAP/Food Stamp benefits. Texas also experienced an increase (10 percent) due to Hurricane Ike.

  • While Hurricanes Gustav and Ike propelled the increases in Louisiana and Texas, the core SNAP/Food Stamp participation rate continued to grow rapidly, at a pace that was similar to previous months, because of the recession. Forty-one states recorded increases over the prior month, and 48 states saw an increase in participation over the past twelve months. Outside of Texas and Louisiana, the caseload grew by 308,462 people in one month.

  • Over the past year (September 2007 to September 2008), the top ten states for the largest percentage caseload increases were Louisiana, Idaho, Florida, Nevada, Texas, Utah, Arizona, Wisconsin, Maryland, and Massachusetts.

  • The number of people participating in SNAP/Food Stamps in September 2008 was 14.6 million more persons than in July 2000, when program participation nationally reached its lowest point in the last decade.

Commenting on the September 2008 data, Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, stated: “The strength of SNAP/Food Stamps lies in its ability to respond quickly to meet increased need, whether due to economic downturns or natural disasters. Caseloads will continue to rise as more people grapple with rising unemployment, falling wages, rising food costs, and growing hunger. With this ongoing growth in participation, it is critical that Congress quickly passes a boost in benefits as part of economic recovery legislation, as well as more administrative funds to help states cope with growing caseloads.”

Previously, participation in SNAP/Food Stamps reached a record high in November 2005, serving 29.85 million people in the wake of three hurricanes.

Click here for more information on September's numbers.

For ongoing analysis of the latest SNAP/Food Stamp participation numbers, including state-by-state trends, please visit www.frac.org.

* SNAP is the acronym for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the new federal name of the Food Stamp Program.

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The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) is the leading national nonprofit organization working to improve public policies and public-private partnerships to eradicate hunger and undernutrition in the United States.

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