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Statistics show 1 in 7 Americans using food stamps

by Adam Russett on December 21, 2010

In the wake of a struggling economy and high unemployment rates, (currently the percentage of jobless workers is hovering just below 10 percent), new data shows that more Americans than ever are using food stamps. The number has jumped 16 percent over last year, meaning around 43 million people are now living on food stamps, or about 1 in 7 Americans, CNN Money reports.

While the nationwide rate is alarmingly high, certain areas of the country have have been hit much harder than others. In states such as Oregon, Tennessee and New Mexico, the rate is around 20 percent. Washington D.C., seems to be the most affected – around 21.5 percent of the population is currently using food stamps.

Experts say that, along with the tough economic climate, one of the reasons for the sharp increase is that many states have changed their definitions of poverty to include more individuals. Additionally, the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act afforded more money to the food stamp program, because recipients tend to spend it quickly and help boost the economy.

Along with added support from the Federal Government, communities are making information about food stamps more available in an effort to remove any negative images associated with the assistance.

"Through newsletters, posters, counseling and other outreach, the stigma associated with food stamps has diminished and more individuals and families are seeking assistance," Nicole Brossoie of the New Jersey Department of Human Services told the news source.

The statistics come less than a week after Congress voted through an extensive tax cut package that also extended unemployment benefits for 13 months. Analysts say that funding for the extended food stamp program is set to run out in November 2013, and Congress will have to pass an extension if they wish for the initiative to continue.

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