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More Americans collecting SNAP food stamps

As the economic downturn stretches on, more Americans are participating in the federal food stamp program, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). In April alone, the total number of food stamp recipients increased by 2.75 percent from one year ago.

Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor/File
Cashier Liliana Romero checks out a customer who is using a SNAP card at Tesoro Supermarket in Framingham, Mass. in 2010. Food stamps recipients can use their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program cards at grocery stores to help purchase their meals.

As a logical consequence of the prolonged economic downturn, participation in the federal food stamp program is continuing to rise.

In fact, household participation has been climbing so steadily that it has dwarfed the last peak (which looks like a minor blip by comparison) set as a result of the immediate fallout following hurricane Katrina.

The latest data released by the Department of Agriculture indicated that in April, a notable 175,902 individual recipients were removed from the food stamps program with the current total still increasing 2.75% on a year-over-year basis.

Individuals receiving food stamp benefits declined to 47.54 million which, as a ratio of the overall civilian non-institutional population now stands at a whopping 19.39% of the population.

Households receiving food stamps benefits declined by 76,082 to 23.03 million households with the current total rising 3.72% above the level seen a year earlier.

As participation continues to swell, so too has the total nominal benefit cost climbing 2.80% on a year-over-year basis to $6.29 billion for the month.

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