The Common Good
December 2006

Come All Ye Who Are Hungry...

by Rose Marie Berger, Jonathan Mendez | December 2006

In June, the Department of Agriculture released a study detailing participation in the Food Stamp Program in 2004, the most recent year for which data is available. About 60 percent of the 38 million people eligible for food stamps in the U.S. received them. Many who are eligible don’t know it or find the application process too difficult.

“The Food Stamp Program is the nation’s major line of defense against hunger,” Ellen Vollinger, from the Food Research and Action Center, told Sojourners. “The fact that it is missing so many eligible people is troubling for families and communities.” Other findings include:

- 71 percent of all possible benefits were distributed by the Food Stamp Program, amounting to nearly $2 million.
- 5 percent more people participated in 2004 than in 2003, the third annual increase after previously declining for seven years.
- $85 was the average benefit per capita per month.
- 28 percent of eligible elderly individuals claimed food stamps.
- 42 percent of eligible non-citizens claimed food stamps, down 4.3 percent from 2003.
- 71 percent of eligible members of medium-sized families (3 to 4 members) claimed food stamps.

Source: “Food Stamp Participation Rates: 2004,” by Allison Barrett and Anni Poikolainen, June 2006.

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