Monday, February 2, 2009

It's a SNAP

SNAP is the brand-new acronym for the old US Food Stamp program; it stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. I guess "food stamps" was too old fashioned and, well, kinda depressing - as in "the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression".

Call it what you may, as of November 2008 (latest data available), the number of Americans needing help with the most basic requirement of life, to wit eating, jumped 14% from the same month last year.

Data: USDA

If you look at the data going back to 1969 you will see a definite correlation between food assistance and the economy: recessions result in higher participation and booms in less. For example, the 1991-93 period saw 30% more people receiving benefits, while during 1994-2000 participation dropped back sharply as the economy expanded.

What is most interesting, then, is that despite the supposed economic expansion after 2003 more and more people needed to go on food stamps. As of November 2008 their number was at an all time record 31.1 million - a number that has since certainly gone higher with increased unemployment.


  1. According to ShadowStats, we had -GDP since 2000. There was no economic expansion, only a debt orgy. In this light, the SNAP data makes perfect sense.

    Joe M.

  2. Apparently I have been mistaken. Seems that rubes like me are wrong about those large wall street bonuses. See, they are not really "bonuses" n the true sense of the word. I weren't so stupid I would realize that they are in fact an expected part of the salary package for the mover and shakers on wall street who arguably got us into this mess and are now calling nationalization a necessary "stimulus" for capitalism. Its not socialization its capitalism.

    See its all about semantics. Just words.

    Kind of like "let them eat cake" was just a semantic misunderstanding.

  3. Your graph is misleading.

    You need to present is as a percentage of the US working population not as an absolute number - the country has many more people today than two decades ago and your presentation disregards that.

  4. we cam atleast start by naming this depressionafter its architect aka the conservative epitome GW Bush. L:et us call this Bush depression and make the creators pay for it.

  5. In FL you don't get food stamps unless you are homeless or have 6 kids. We have one of the lowest unemployment insurance payment rates, yet these people have to go hungry. It is either that or go without electricity.

  6. re: food stamps as % of population.

    Look at the TRENDS my friend...

  7. I guess I have a hard time understanding why people keep having 2-3 kids if they can't support them? I just don't get it, please explain. Why bring a child into the world when you can't even afford to feed them. I understand if you just lost your job and need help, but I keep hearing about people who have been on Food Stamps for several years, way before this recession started. There are families who have been of Food Stamps for generations. Why do they keep having kids, I know having children should not only be for the rich, but being able to feed them is essential.

  8. Don't blame the economy or President Bush for the high number of food stamp recipients.

    Part of the problem is illegal immigration. It has continued to increase and some of the illegals are receiving food stamps (and other benefits.)

    The main problem is the permanent hard core underclass in the USA that feels it is constitutionally guaranteed a free ride at the expense of suckers who work for a living. This permanent welfare bunny group has increased. They continue to have more kids because they don't have to pay for their own irresponsibility. Working and middle class pay for the mistakes of multi-generational welfare recipients who continue to leech off of us.

  9. And what will the upshot of this trend be going forward?

    1.) The government will be behind the removal of illegals going forward. There will be a ton of impetus driven by dire economic circumstances and the nativist sentiment that goes along with economic collapse.

    Last year's drive by a certain segment of government and the citizenry to allow illegal aliens to acquire citizenship was a high water mark for such an initiatives. It's all going to move the other way going forward.

  10. If they are "considering" increasing the food stamp program the answer ought to be YES. People are hungry and out of work because times are bad - duh - and This is the reason government exists in the first place! How many food stamps can we issue for the cost of one month spent in Iraq?

  11. If the baby factories would stop banging out fatherless babies they cannot afford, those of us getting taxed to death to feed them would get a break and be able to feed our own families better. A lot of the baby factories can sit home on their asses with their excuses for not working because there are still a few of use who carry our own weight in society. I am tired of getting taxed to pay for the stupid decisions made by other people. I have no sympathy for the Food Stamp crowd; they don't give a damn about me when I am paying for them to stuff their face.

  12. Here in WA we certainly do not need an increase in food stamps. A couple of years ago our family had the need to use food stamps. For our family of 3, two parents and a 3 month old, we were given over $400 per month, needless to say I never needed it all. We felt bad buying junk with other people’s money so we bought a small container of ice cream once a week and once a month we went and got a couple of candy bars, other then that we bought bread, peanut butter, hamburger, fresh fruit, fresh and frozen veggies, chicken, etc. I always had extra money at the end of the month. We ate better on food stamps then we ever have since, especially once I discovered the health food store in town would take the card too. We are happier now that we can take care of ourselves, but we can no longer afford organic veggies and fruit every week. I wonder if these folks who are complaining are like the ones I often follow in the grocery store: a whole cart of hostess, a whole cart of soda, and a cart of what can only be considered junk food all on food stamps. (I know what the cards look like.) Now I try not to judge, perhaps a family member has a rare disease that can only be treated with high fructose corn syrup, lots of sugar, and non-nutritious food. However, since I was there myself not so long ago, I know it is possible to feed a family extremely well, with very good food, while being on food stamps.

  13. Oh, we also spent 3 months in Utah on food stamps. The allotment was somewhat less in Utah, but we always had plenty of money to feed us.

  14. What bothers me most about the SNAP/Food Stamp Program is that people buy pop/candy/chips! I do not buy pop/candy - and chips rarely! POP - Colas on Food Stamps! That is ridiculous!

  15. An amazing thing happens when you do a little math, you get perspective.

    A Rush Limbaugh listener argued with me about the "socialistic" Democratic Bill to re-sod the National Mall for 200 million.

    I asked where were you when about 800 times that amount was ponied up in a socialistic bailout of AIG. Where is the outrage on Fox News when the Congrss is talking about creating a "bad bank" to absorb a trillion dollars in bad debt.

    The people that created this mess should lose their homes and be made to depend on food stamps for awhile--it will improve their perspective.

  16. I am a single parent with two children who works for $10.50 per hour. According to SNAP guidelines, I make $30 over the gross amount to qualify for food stamps. During the application process, it was acknowledge that I did not bring home enough money to cover all of my expenses such as rent, daycare, utilities, etc., yet because of $30 dollars, I can not get assistance for food. Can u imagine what's on our dinner plates?

  17. Thank you for improving my education on the American mindset these days.
    Hasn't changed much since the day that I talked to my financial adviser's assistant about why it was important for the COLLECTIVITY to finance prenatal care for women, all women, as the collectivity would pay the cost to society in the long run for poor prenatal care. It's called INVESTMENT IN THE COLLECTIVITY, DUH. (I know I sound smart ass on this one, but I just get so tired of hearing the same things coming from the U.S. all the time on this kind of topic.)

    What really irritates me on this subject is the incredible, smug, SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS that exudes from the pores of so many people.
    What I call the elder brother society.
    You know, the elder brother, the one who never faced any hardship, who hung around Dad, and got miffed when Dad killed the fatted calf when the prodigal son returned.

    As for the illegal immigrants topic, I can see it going on over in France too.
    Yeah, well, when Europe has finished putting up that barbed wire fence to keep people out (after raping and pillaging the colonies for far too long, and continuing to do so even after colonization is officially ended), then we will see just HOW we will manage to keep the starving people out.
    Well, I guess that's going to give a lot of jobs, all that security.
    Like the jobs that will be created by sticking a cop behind every citizen. (And who will we stick behind the cops, to make sure that THEY behave ? Nobody ever thinks of that, do they ?...)

  18. I'm a regular reader and have rarely posted. On the scale between disheartening and scary, the meter reads way too much into truly scary.

    The problem (growing problem) with hunger in the US of A has been widely reported in my midwestern city (we've not been hit nearly as badly as so many others). I am pulling more of those little grocery store coupons supporting local food banks at my grocery store.

    Beating up rhetorically on the hungry underclass so badly misses the boat, I am very sad to read all this. Of the many choices and decisions I face daily, stopping work for the good life of food stamps (sorry SNAP) really never has looked like a desirable option.

  19. When we stop feeding the illegal aliens in our public schools and stop feeding the illegal aliens roaming the streets of Los Angeles, then I may be for food stamps. Calfironia among other states are going broke because of the bleeding hearts. Our gov't spends billions on other countries that hate us. Spend it at home.

  20. Nice Post Hell, looks like you stirred up a proverbial hornet's nest on this one. It's good to see that cognitive dissonance is as alive and healthy on this blog as ever. I complement you on successfully stirring it up, even if it may not have been your original intent.

    If I can complement any problem with today's comments, it is my usual view that most of the authors of these statements refuse to recognize the paradoxical truth that they are almost all simultaneously valid.

    ... But just in case there is ANY confusion on which side of this fence I sit, I think we should feed those illegal aliens.

    But it is definitely true I wouldn't mind if those aliens weren't quite so fat. In fact, I wouldn't mind if WE ALL weren't quite so fat (it would save an awful lot of secondary consumption). If we want to use food stamps as the medium to remind each other of this fundamental truth, that does seem one approach. Of course we could also just remind each other with occasional nudges.

    But that would require WE ALL solve the problem. Maybe those who think it is unnecessary for ALL of us to step up are correct? Maybe those who think all we need is a leader to fix this and it will go away are correct?

  21. “Even as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it unto me." --a guy named Jesus

  22. The only jobs in my area (very, very few) pay only 7-8 dollars and hour for not even full time work which is not enough per month for even rent at the crappiest apartment, much less a car and fuel, decent food, clothes, etc...and here I am stuck with close to 30,000 in student loans with no job prospects, or only prospects making a paltry 8 dollars an hour for only 30 hours a week.

    You expect me to just curl up and starve? I eat 1000 calories or less regularly (2000 calories per day is a VERY good day for me), and the doctor told me I am underweight and need to gain at least 15 pounds. I am weak and lack energy because of lack of food, always having to eat cheap fast food just so I don't go deeper in to debt.

    America...Land of the Free, Home of the brave, huh?

  23. Actually, I post on another blog, in France. (Only two blogs, blogging can consume your entire day...)
    It is a self-help forum for people who have been "diagnosed" for the most part as having psychiatric problems, and who are living on a teeny weeny disability allowance (strictest minimum, no extras allowed.) Almost everybody smokes, and I, once a rabid finger pointer at smokers, and the cost to the collectivity,( etc etc you get the idea) have now decided that, well, once the powers that be have straightjacketed us with their tyrannic desires to DO WHAT'S GOOD FOR US, I think I would rather smoke just to thumb my nose at all the hygienism. Yuk...
    I have told my friends that in my opinion, WORK needs to be thought through carefully.
    That I don't see too much difference between them, and the people who are eking out an existence while working at a mindless,Taylorist, humiliating job, OR TWO, and that in my book, it would be better to collect unemployment and do volunteer work to get a sense of one's dignity and contribute to the collectivity.
    I will defend this one to the teeth.
    No loyalty to a society that rubs your face in the mud, and spits on you.
    That's called breaking the social contract.
    No guilt when you decide to collect the check, then volunteer your time elsewhere.
    Here we've gotten sidetracked by the MONEY trap again. I can already hear people screaming on this blog about the "nobility" of work (lol).
    No, we've turned it into something far less than noble. We've turned it into ? I don't know, could this possibly be the ultimate result, product of the "democratic" ideal ? EVERYBODY up to their knees in shit, be careful, equality demands it.

  24. "Almost everybody smokes, and I, once a rabid finger pointer at smokers, and the cost to the collectivity,( etc etc you get the idea) have now decided that, well, once the powers that be have straightjacketed us with their tyrannic desires to DO WHAT'S GOOD FOR US, I think I would rather smoke just to thumb my nose at all the hygienism. Yuk..."

    A LOT of people smoke because it helps to kill hunger. It's cheaper to just buy a pack of smokes every day than to spend triple the cost of a single pack on cigarettes on one meal.

  25. to the last anonymous who said:

    "It's cheaper to just buy a pack of smokes every day than to spend triple the cost of a single pack on cigarettes on one meal."

    Wrong. Absolutely wrong. Like Debra, I follow 2 blogs. The other is Mark Bitten.

    Partly due to his "help" I eat amazingly well. My weekly food budget stands at a measly 23 euro. I almost always cook at home however. I buy basic grains, lots of fruits and vegetables and probably about half a kilo of meat every week. Rosemary and parsley grow wild all thru madrid. You just have to know what to look for. And that includes the sales.

    And of course you have to know how to cook.

  26. No one has left my Home hungry and many have passed by in our Home over the years. I only give in abundance that my work has given me since we all will answer to our Stewardship. Some time ago a guy needed some money at my door. I ask what it was needed for? He was truthfull and needed a quart of oil for a vehicle to get to a interview. I gave hime a quart of oil. I learned a long time ago if they need money it is better to give what they need only which is only to fill the need and not the want tro build community's. He was from another continent on God's Earth that the Jesuit's found a way to get here from a stricken area of Social discord, as I see today we are drifting down. Do unto other's as not to insult for your Household or your Creator.
    Food Stamps do have a place in our for the want of many but the need is for people to fill the void first I feel.

  27. sorry... 30 euro... that's my grocery store bill. I also buy a loaf of bread everyday at the bakery, and that's a euro a pop-- fresh though!

  28. To: Angry, Unemployed, Hungry

    It's too bad your expensive college education didn't include learning how to cook and feed yourself. Fast food is not cheap. Our family of 3 took the food stamp challenge for a month. We ate very well for $200 for the month.

    Here are a couple of examples:

    Spaghetti with meat sauce - $1 per serving.

    Onion, canned tomatoes, chopped yellow squash, chopped zuchinni, canned tomato paste, 1 lb ground beef, water. Makes 12 one cup servings. serve over pasta.

    Scrambled eggs with grits (or oatmeal)

    2 eggs, 1/4 cup grits - 40 cents per serving.

    Let me know if you want more recipes.

  29. Well Cottonbloggin, looks like we're kind of neighbors, doesn't it ?
    Ah, the joys of posting when there isn't a rabbit on this blog. They tickle my heart.
    I think that maybe unemployment in Spain is not quite so bad as in France.
    Spain keeps booming from shipping all those fruits and vegetables all over the rest of Europe. (And committing ecological suicide with its irrigation and handling of its water ressources...)
    And, up until recently, those subsidies from the EU to help keep things afloat.
    No such chance in France.

  30. Bonjour Debra,

    Hmmm... I don't know. Spanish unemployment is at a 12 year high already (as of jan 9), and the government is projecting 19% unemployment by the end of 2009.

    Now, for the most part, I teach civil servants whose jobs are guaranteed for life. However, at the same time it's 'curious' (as the spanish are fond of saying) to see fully grown men and women hanging out in cardboard castles all over the city.

    I'm not talking "I'm gonna sleep in a box in the park tonight" I'm talking full on "I've nowhere to go so I'm gonna appropriate your doorway... and I'm bringing my mattress with me" superstructures for a spanish apocalypse.

    There's one guy (his name's Juan, but my spanish is bad so we don't really talk much) who's gotta have fifteen boxes all stacked up in a luxuriously large portico. He's even got umbrellas on the leading edge to keep his castle dry. It's a serious feat of architectural engineering.


    The one I really feel sorry for is Henry. He's the illegal Nigerian who sells papers in front of my supermarket. He risked his life to get spain (its an amazing story actually) and really believes that he's gonna get working papers... and I don't have the heart to tell him that if 19% of natural born spanish aren't working, the chances of him getting papers... ugh...

  31. "Can u imagine what's on our dinner plates?"

    I hope it's beans. That's what is on my dinner plate, with my $12 an hour wage. There's no excuse for this and I'm really familiar with all the phases the food stamp program has gone through. It used to be commodities (and still is for Am. Indians). You had to figure out how to cook the food they gave you, but they also gave you cookbooks to tell you how to use it. Then we went to food stamps, which means you can spend your stamps on whatever kind of crap you want to buy and whine about it afterwards. There are very few places where you can't buy beans and rice in bulk. People who have reduced means need to learn how to cook, more than any other skill they can come up with. And FYI, for those of you inclined to complain about your lot in life, Hillbilly Housewife is a great website to learn how to live on the cheap.

  32. Yes, but Hell, it still comes down to who in those statics and charts are the one who are really in need, or are just milking the system because they can.
    I don't mean to sound cold hearted, but I believe that there are private organizations, Churches, and families that should support people in need of food.
    I wish I felt different, and God forbid I ever am in that situation, but I don't think I'd take advantage of the system either, as many have..and the Government has allowed.
    Again, this is one of my pet peeves. How much does it really cost to provide a nutritious meal?
    Not Steak and Lobster, or Crepes, but just a nutritious meal?
    I would and have stopped in my tire treads and gone to a Burger King, or Jack in the box and spent a few dollars for a homeless person that I just passed by - then gone back and rolled down the window a gave it to them...pretty neat feeling.
    Although it was not the best meal, it cost a few dollars.
    I really believe that our Country needs to start reaching out to one another, and keep the Government out of it.
    I really enjoying your blog site and reading everyones opinions.

  33. Thanks for the info, Cottonbloggin.
    I never said I was an expert on Spain, not even on France.
    Sounds like those people in castles have IMAGINATION at least, and some manual skills, because otherwise they wouldn't even be building cardboard castles.
    My son in medical school came home the other night with a story about a 57 year old Romanian guy working as a nurses' aide in a nursing home. The guy has a medical degree from Romania, but has never managed to get it recognized in France (not for lack of trying, either, I think...)
    Kind of makes you want to puke, doesn't it ?
    I'm really ignorant on what's going on in the States these days, but it seems to me that the schools are not teaching anyone how to COOK anymore, are they ?
    I know that theoretically all you need to do is buy a book and wave your magic wand, and abracadabra, you know how to cook, but really it doesn't work that way...
    Maybe we should be teaching the kids, all the kids how to cook...

  34. you know i would love to keep thinking that the only people on food stamps are "baby factories". i am a educated white girl with a husband and i am currently on foodstamps. i never thought i would be but unfortunately we have come to this point. we are in a depression people. REALIZE that. it is no longer a poor vs rih, educated vs. uneducated, white vs black issue. its now most peoples problem. what we should do is stop turning the gun on each other and turn it on the damn govt and big corporations that got us into this enormous mess.

  35. ps i have been working since i was 16 and paying all my taxes. i am now 32 and self employed and my business has shut down due to economic crisis. noone is buying. i had my first child at 32 and now this depression comes. you do the math. i need the foodstamps. i probably wont need them forver but i do until business picks back up. i am so sorry if i am not willing to eat differently then when i was making money. i am not going to eat nasty food because you all dont want to pay extra taxes. i would love to see you in a situation like this. america is full of greedy people i see...i was born here and it makes me sad to be associated with people like you all...

  36. I don't know, I think right now the demand for food stamps/SNAP benefits has increased dramatically because people are either stingy, desperate, or just really going hungry (which is never an okay thing).

  37. To all the people who don't believe in food stamps (SNAP)...

    A year ago at this time I was in school full time and working full time and making it just fine on my own, until I got pregnant. Then I was forced to make a decision, stay in school and abort an innocent child or drop out and try my hardest to support him. Now I am a mother trying my hardest to provide for my son. Just because there are some people who take advantage of the programs the government gives us, doesn't mean everyone does.

    I was born and raised here in the U.S. and my parents have paid taxes all their lives and did not once use the programs they provide. And I have been paying taxes since I was 16, and now in my time of need of course I am going to take advantage of these programs. And I have noticed now on SNAP I am eating healthier and cooking more at home. So just because some people use the money for pop, chips, and candy doesn't mean everyone does...and you can't tell me that you don't eat that stuff occasionally too. I know it seems bad that people do buy junk food with tax payers money, but you can't expect everyone to change their eating habits just because they have been hit with some hard times.

    One thing I do think they should change though is the rules and regulations. I know it sounds bad to make it more complicated then it already is...but I believe that people should be limited in their junk food intake if they are receiving SNAP, especially because a lot of America is obese and we are just passing it down to our children. WIC (another program that provides food benefits for women, infants, and children)can limit what you buy, why can't SNAP?