The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program formerly known as the Food Stamp Program serves about one in seven Americans -- about half are children -- over the course of a year, USDA officials say.
As of last month, 43 million Americans had been using SNAP resources -- average monthly benefit for one person was $133.57 or average household monthly benefit of $285.64 -- up from 40 million in 2010, 33 million in 2009 and 30 million in 2008. Many of the recipients of the food benefit are employed, but have suffered salary reductions.
SNAP benefits, which are provided to recipients electronically, also provide an economic stimulus that strengthens communities, USDA officials say.
Research shows that every $5 in new SNAP benefits generates as much as $9 in economic activity, the USDA says. SNAP benefits are administered by states, but they are federally funded and move quickly into local economies, with 97 percent of SNAP benefits redeemed within a month, officials says.