Rising unemployment is expected to push the number of Americans on food stamps to an all-time high of more than 30 million this month, the Washington Post reports. Food pantries say they are also experiencing a surge in demand and a hunger hotline in Washington DC says its calls have more than tripled—and come mostly people who have never sought help before.
Experts say high food prices, while down from their peak, are contributing to the rise in hunger. Political support is growing for a proposal to temporarily raise food stamp benefits by 10% to 20% in the next economic stimulus package. "Congress has been focusing on the impact on the financial markets," said one advocate. "We want them to focus on the supermarkets and help 30 million people."