News / USA

More Americans Turn to Food Stamps for Help

Food stamp recipient pays for groceries in New York
Food stamp recipient pays for groceries in New York

Multimedia

The economic downturn and ongoing under-employment in the U.S. have resulted in a big increase in the number of Americans using food stamps.  Once considered a social safety net for only the lowest income Americans, the use of federally funded food stamps has grown dramatically over the last two years. New government data shows one in eight Americans now rely on food stamps to make ends meet.

With nearly 15 million Americans out of work, a program once reserved for welfare recipients is becoming a fact of life for more Americans.

Musician and writer Rosalind Block is one of nearly 40 million people who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as  food stamps.

After the recession hit, Block says she lost most of her clients, and then the father of her son died, leaving her with few choices.

"You know, here I am, Ivy League educated [by a top rated university], middle-aged person, you know, I should have my act together far more than to be in a situation like this.  But when times are tough, I grabbed it," she said.

Block is not alone.  In the last two years, U.S. government reports show the food stamp program added 11 million people - an increase of more than 40 percent.

Carlos Rodriguez at the New York City Food Bank says the recession had an impact on people from all walks of life.

"We've had stories of families who had reserves and savings, so they were playing by all the rules and making the best of their situation and this economic crisis has provided them with the need to come and access services that quite frankly, many of them never thought that they would be eligible or knew, were there for them," he said.

To be eligible, households must meet certain income requirements.  For a family of four, that's a net monthly income of less than two thousand dollars per month.

Robert Doar, Commissioner of Social Services in New York City, says the most notable trend has been the increase in the number of working poor.

"In the old days food stamps was a safety net program for people that were not working.  Now it's very much a work support, a work supplement for people that are working, and that's a big change," he said.

With so many Americans needing help, some say the other big change has been to the social stigma once attached to food stamps.  

Rosalind Block says any sense of shame she once felt has now been replaced by relief and gratitude.

You May Like

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid