Over 6 Million Added to Food Stamp Rolls as Pandemic Surged


More than 6 million Americans went on food stamps between February and September of last year as the pandemic-induced economic slowdown pushed families into poverty.

The data released Wednesday on the surge in food assistance further documents the ongoing toll taken by the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression as the Federal Reserve warned that the recovery is weakening and Congress debates a Biden administration plan to spend $1.9 trillion on relief measures and vaccine distribution.

By September, a total of more than 42.9 million Americans were on food stamps, up from just under 36.9 million in February, according to monthly data on the program, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

The Trump administration had stopped issuing monthly updates after the U.S. Department of Agriculture released figures for April, with the department citing technical problems with the data.

The USDA food stamp totals don’t include assistance paid under the new Pandemic EBT Emergency School Meals Program, which provides benefits to families that ordinarily receive free or reduced price school meals.

An array of other data shows deep economic pain in the nation. Almost 24 million Americans reported not having enough food to eat the previous 7 days in a Census Bureau Household Pulse survey taken Jan. 6 to Jan. 18.

An additional 8 million people fell into poverty during the second half of 2020, more than double the sharpest annual rise in poverty since the 1960s, according to a study by economists at the University of Chicago and the University of Notre Dame released on Monday.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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