I hate to be so gloom and doom about our current economic health, but the numbers are the numbers and I feel the need to talk about some of the more striking indicators so we all understand the gravity of the situation we’re in…especially since the following numbers are just from September.
Food stamps, the main U.S. antihunger program which helps the needy buy food, set a record in September as more than 31.5 million Americans used the program — up 17 percent from a year ago, according to government data.
The number of people using food stamps in September surpassed the previous peak of 29.85 million seen in November 2005 when victims of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma received emergency benefits, said Jean Daniel of the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. September’s tally — the latest month available — was also boosted by hurricane and flood aid, Daniel said on Wednesday. But anti-hunger groups said the economic downturn is the main reason behind the higher figures.
“It’s a disturbing trend,” said Ellen Vollinger, legal director with the Food Research and Action Center. She said she expects more people will turn to food stamps as unemployment figures rise and the economy remains weak.
One in 10 Americans were participating in the food stamp program as of September, said Dottie Rosenbaum, analyst with Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a think tank.
That’s approaching the all-time high of 10.5 percent of the population that used the program in 1994, and is similar to levels seen in the early 1980s, she said.
No doubt the percentage is more than that by now with the massive unemployment numbers we’ve been seeing the past couple months, so the title of this post is probably wrong. But even if it isn’t, this is yet another sign that things aren’t getting better and we’ve probably got a long way to go before they do.
However, let me say this…I think we should all be thankful that we have safety nets like food stamps in this country. And yes, that means your tax dollars are probably paying for somebody else to eat, but I wish more who think that government programs like social security and medicare and food stamps are wasteful would realize that they’re vital to keeping a society like ours afloat.