WASHINGTON, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- The stigma of food stamps is fading amid record use of the U.S. nutrition program, which now feeds more than 36 million people, officials said.
"I think the response of the program has been tremendous," said Kevin Concannon, an under secretary of agriculture, "but we're mindful that there are another 15, 16 million who could benefit."
The federal program now feeds one in eight adults and one in four children, with more than 36 million people using inconspicuous plastic cards to buy staples, Concannon told The Washington Post.
A big step toward acceptance was a push by the George W. Bush administration to call food stamps "nutritional aid" instead of welfare, and to make it easier to apply.
The program is expanding by about 20,000 out-of-work and underemployed people a day, the Post reported, noting the growth has been swift in once-prosperous communities effected by the housing bust.
"It's time for us to face up to the fact that in this country of plenty, there are hungry people," Concannon said.