15 Percent of Americans Are Now on Food Stamps

The number of people getting money to feed themselves and their families hit an all-time high in May.

Today we discovered the unemployment rate fell a paltry tenth of a percent in July, putting us at 9.1 percent, and experts weighed in on the cratering stock market. It just might be "recession 2.0." At least 45.8 million people are acutely aware of how bad things have been, because they're on food stamps.

According to a new report from the United States Department of Agriculture, almost 46 million Americans received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in May. That's a record high, not to mention a 12 percent jump from last year at this time and a 34 percent jump from 2009. For context, this means that if you add up the residents of all 10 of America's most populous cities, you'd still need about 22 million people to get the number we've now got on SNAP.

To qualify for food stamps, a person's income can't exceed $14,088 a year, which is 130 percent of the national poverty level. That's a lot of very poor people. Unfortunately, it's easy to forget they exist when our politicians choose to take the focus off of the poor and put it instead on a game of high-stakes chicken.

photo via (cc) Flickr user clementine gallot