HOW WE GET BY

Surviving on Food Stamps Alone

As the Great Recession wears on, Food Stamps use is already at a record high and within those numbers is a fast-growing subcategory of recipients—six million Americans so far—who have no actual cash income. The swift increase has been only partially monitored by authorities and policymakers, and is complicated to track as it includes some recipients that may have found employment or others receiving under-the-table forms of income. Still, “the Food Stamps program is being asked to do too much” according to the president of the Food Research and Action Center. The increase is drawing conservative criticism, too, and Rep. John Linder (R-GA) said, “This is craziness. We’re at risk of creating an entire class of people, a subset of people, just comfortable getting by living off the government.” Many recipients held steady jobs pre-recession, however, and one woman said, “I went from making $180,000 to relying on Food Stamps. Without that government program, I wouldn’t be able to feed my children.”