For the first time in four years, food stamp enrollment decreased to below 46 million.
According to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 45.6 million people received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in February of this year, which is the lowest enrollment number since August of 2011, when 45.8 million people enrolled.
Following the economic downturn beginning around 2008, SNAP enrollment increased significantly, rising to 47 million in 2012 from 27 million in 2007. Since 2013, the enrollment rate slowly began to decrease as the economy improved. States also began imposing greater restrictions on SNAP eligibility for unemployed able-bodied individuals without dependents, which contributed greatly to the decrease.
“SNAP is designed to be responsive to the economy, and this downward trend is an encouraging sign that the economic recovery is reaching struggling families,” USDA undersecretary for nutrition Kevin Concannon said. “The best way to reduce spending in the program is to continue improving the economy, connect recipients with job training and job placement assistance, and raise the minimum wage so working families can afford to make ends meet.”
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