Talk about historical accomplishments. It's official: There are now more Americans than ever before relying on food stamps.
This reality comes as the United States climbs its way out of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. New numbers from the government's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) show that more than 44.5 million people received food stamps in March. This means that about 14 percent of the entire nation is dependent on the government for basic food and nutrition (about 21 million households).
While many families are certainly in need, the cost of the program has many people questioning its efficiency. According to ABC News:
Opponents of the program argue that money from the food stamps budget -- with what they call its increasingly lax requirements -- needs to be shifted to other programs such as education and child nutrition. The program’s supporters argue that at a time of economic decline, such welfare programs are even more important to try to keep Americans from spiraling into poverty.
The cost of the food stamps program has increased rapidly since it was established by Congress in 1964.
It cost taxpayers more than $68 billion last year, double the amount in 2007.
Nutrition assistance now accounts for more than half -- or about 67 percent -- of the USDA’s budget, compared with 26 percent in 1980. That shift in focus, critics say, is ineffective because it hasn’t put a dent in poverty or hunger in the United States while taking away money from other programs, specifically agricultural programs that should be the main focus of the agency.
Will the government make cuts to food stamps? The issue is currently on Congress' radar, so we'll have to wait and see what happens. Already, the current allocation being considered for 2012 is $2 billion below the amount President Obama requested.