Until I looked up the data on food stamp recipients, I had no idea that so many Americans were received them. Over the last decade, the number of recipients have doubled. Currently, around 40 million people benefit from the program - some 14 percent of the population.
The US has only a minimal social safety net. Food stamps provide low income and "no-income" families and individuals with assistance in purchasing food. Although, the program started out as a system of dollar-denominated stamps, today recipients receive debit cards. These cards can only be used to buy food, although they can be used to purchases things of dubious nutritional value such as fast food, soft drinks and cookies.
The programme isn't terribly generous. The precise amount of the benefit varies slightly from state to state, but on average, an individual can expect to receive about $134 a month. That is less than one hundred pounds at the current exchange rate.
One in seven Americans live on food stamps. Imagine that. Sometimes, the best way to understand the impact of the current crisis is through statistics. The financial crisis is not short of victims.