14% of Americans Use Food Stamps 43.6M need help to buy groceries By Nick McMaster, Newser Staff Posted Feb 2, 2011 6:48 PM CST 81 comments Comments File photo of home-grown veggies. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia) (Newser) – A sizable number of Americans—about 14%, in fact—continue to need government help to buy groceries, the Wall Street Journal reports. A new Labor Department survey says 43.6 million people in the US were signed up with the food stamp program as of November, an increase of 14.2% from the previous year. Washington, DC, and Mississippi had the highest rates, with more than 20% of their residents using food stamps. New Mexico saw the biggest jump, to 19.4%, up 3.2 percentage points.