1 in 50 americans living on food stamps alone

If you haven’t seen the recent NYTimes article on Americans living on foodstamps, you should check it out.* According to the Times, one in fifty Americans now lives in a household where the only source of income is a food stamp card (that’s about 6 million people). That means no welfare, no unemployment insurance, and no pensions, child support or disability pay. Just food stamps (and perhaps section 8 housing). Many of these folks seem to be cobbling together benefits by living with family or partners who have some kind of housing benefit or other government subsidy. But I find these numbers astonishing.

“This is craziness,” the Times quotes Representative John Linder (Georgia, R), ranking minority member of the House panel on welfare policy. I agree. But what’s crazier is Linder’s take on it.

“We’re at risk of creating an entire class of people, a subset of people, just comfortable getting by living off the government.”

Um… excuse me Rep. Linder. But when did $150-300/month in total income (and not cash, but a card restricted to certain kinds of purchases) qualify as “comfortable”?!? Yeah. The worry here is that these people are too comfortable.

* The graphs, multimedia, and photos are especially worth checking out.

3 thoughts on “1 in 50 americans living on food stamps alone”

  1. Thanks. That story is great evidence that they virtually eliminated the cash support part of welfare (AFDC/TANF), and replaced it with – nothing (or, a requirement to search for a job). In the comments on a recent post, someone complained that their welfare program required 30 hours of job searching per week. When there are no jobs and lots of people waiting for them, this is just punitive. The response from another kind neighbor was, “Since they are unemployed and receiving assistance, shouldn’t they be spending all their waking hours looking for work? 30 is lenient.”


  2. I saw this article last night and had the exact same reactions as shakha – surprise and dismay at the high number of people living on so little and complete disgust at Rep. Linder’s idiotic comment.


  3. Maybe I missed it, but I don’t think the article mentioned the fact that states have been easing the eligibility requirements for food stamps over the past few years. It’s more of an increase in supply than in demand. No doubt the recession is taking a toll on people, but I don’t think the increased use of food stamps is a reliable indicator.


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