Stimulus to Bulk Up Food Stamps

Caseloads up dramatically; bill to offer $16B to $20B in support
By Gabriel Winant,  Newser User
Posted Feb 10, 2009 8:05 AM CST
Saad Hopkins, entering the University of Washington as a junior in the fall, gets groceries at the University District Food Bank Tuesday, July 15, 2008, in Seattle.    (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
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(Newser) – The stimulus package set to pass Congress contains a measure to boost food stamp benefits by billions of dollars, reports NPR. The $16 billion to $20 billion increase—which would mean up to $79 more a month for a family of four—is a response to a drastic rise in applications. In Florida, for example, the caseload is up 500,000 people in 20 months. Says an official, “These are folks who, quite frankly, have never been on benefits before.”

The state is not alone in grappling with swelling applicant rolls. But critics worry about the long-term implications. Says a fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, “Anybody who believes that they're going to scale this thing back after five years, I have a lot of waterfront property in New Mexico that I'd like to sell to them.”