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In Tough Economic Times, Food Stamps Becoming The Norm

With millions of Americans out of a job, more than 36 million people are currently on food stamps.


Photo: David C. Foster (flickr)

In these hard economic times, more and more Americans have no choice but to seek refuge in governmental aid… one such program: food stamps. With millions out of work and “major industries” collapsing, food stamp use is now at record highs.

Once seen as a “social stigma”, food stamps are becoming the norm in cities and towns all across the country. Reports show that food stamps, now called the “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,” help feed one in eight Americans and one in four children.

More Regulation?

While the the stamps are proving satisfactory to many in-need, some critics of the program suggest that the food stamps should be regulated to promote healthier eating.

Others point out the high cost of fresh veggies and fruits, which in turn forces the less fortunate to purchase cheaper foods like hot-dogs and potato chips.

Fortunately for advocates of healthy eating, in some parts of the country, food stamps are now being accepted at farmers’ markets, a promising development.

A Really Cool NY Times Infographic

As you probably already know, the economic crisis and near-record unemployment has food stamp usage increasing at a rapid rate. The New York Times has a really cool interactive map on food stamp usage in the United States – showing stats for every county in the nation.

It even lets you further segment the data by viewing only children or the differences between black and white food stamp recipients as well as the change from 2007.

For example, in our hometown, Bloomington, Indiana, the map says that 6% of all residents are on food stamps and 14% of all kids. That may seem like quite a lot, but apparently it’s actually down by 5% from 2007.

Weighing In

What are your thoughts? Should the government increase regulation of what food-stamp beneficiaries can purchase? Or should the decision rest with the consumer? Send us your comments!

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Emily Shelton

Emily Shelton is a web producer and blogger for Earth Eats. A native of Evansville, Indiana, Emily moved to Bloomington in the fall of 2007 to attend Indiana University, pursuing a major in Telecommunications and a minor in Business. Emily began interning at WFIU in the fall of 2008 and is now an Assistant Web Producer. As an official Earth Eats "tweeter", Emily loves spreading the word about the importance of environmental issues and "going green". In her free time, she enjoys watching movies, writing, and looking at pictures of delicious meals that she'll only ever dream about.

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