Since the turn of the millennium, participation in the food stamp program, known officially as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, has more than doubled to 15 percent of all U.S. residents in January. In some parts of the country, as few as 1 in 20 people receive food stamps. In others, the figure is more than 1 in 3. Low-income households that meet SNAP eligibility requirements receive a payment card that can only be used to buy government-approved essential foods.
Under President Obama’s watch, the value of the benefits distributed by the program each year has more than doubled as more people have fallen below the poverty line and more households have joined the program. Obama has expanded eligibility under the theory that it helps the economy, which led Newt Gingrich to dub him the “food stamp president” early in the 2012 election season. Due to the high unemployment rate, the Obama administration has also waived a 1996 job requirement—a rule that made finding a job or enrolling in job training a prerequisite for receiving SNAP benefits—for 46 states. Republican leaders are trying to reinstate the requirement to counteract the program’s escalating cost.
To find out how many people participate in the program in your area and how that number has changed since 2000, enter your ZIP code, city, or county and state in the widget below.
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The participants received $ in benefits.
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Slate’s coverage of food systems is made possible in part by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
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