WASHINGTON, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- The number of U.S. citizens receiving food stamps could surpass 30 million this month, federal officials said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is scheduled to release food stamp numbers by the end of the month and wouldn't confirm the 30 million figure, which was divulged in a meeting with state officials in October, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
The 30 million mark would surpass the previous high set in the months following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Post reported.
The current rise in recipients is due to rising unemployment -- currently at 6.5 percent -- and food costs, the Post said.
"If the economic forecasts come true, we're likely to see the most hunger that we've seen since the 1981 recession and maybe since the 1960s, when these programs were established," Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center in Washington, told the newspaper.
Government figures reveal that 11.9 million people, including 700,000 children, went hungry at some point in 2007, the Post said.
Some predict the next federal economic stimulus package would include increasing food stamp benefits, which generate $1.73 worth of economic activity for every $1 spent, Mark Zandi, chief economist at rating agency Moody's Economy.com, said to the Post.