Forty-five million Americans have been on food stamps for almost half a decade.
Data released by the Department of Agriculture on Jan. 8 provides a picture of American dependence on government assistance like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the conservative Washington Free Beacon reported.
In all, 45,368,348 Americans have been receiving SNAP benefits -- also known as food stamps -- since 2011, costing American taxpayers $5.73 billion a month, according to the agriculture department's stats. On average, beneficiaries receive $256.11 per month to help them pay for groceries.
The latest figures don't include an estimated half million to one million Americans who will lose their benefits once federal waivers expire. Those waivers, enacted during the economic recession, relaxed standards for people applying for SNAP assistance, allowing able-bodied adults without children into the program indefinitely instead of limiting them to three months of assistance.
Work requirements were waived for nine years, but states across the country are cutting benefits as unemployment rates drop, leaving jobless adults scrambling.
"These individuals will lose their food assistance benefits after three months regardless of how hard they are looking for work," the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said in a report on the impact of SNAP cuts.
Most childless adults receiving SNAP benefits will time out of the assistance program at the end of March, as the House Agriculture Committee conducts a review of the SNAP program that will include hearings on how Americans in the military will be impacted, and how much taxpayer money will be saved by expiring waivers.