The recession has pushed millions from their homes and jobs, but there's a rising new class of economic victim—the American with zero monthly income surviving on food stamps alone. The New York Times examined states' data, and found that some 18% of food stamp recipients were in households with no income, which indicates some 6 million people nationwide. Of those, the Times estimates, 1.2 million are children.
The numbers are staggering, with many states seeing double- and triple-digit growth among those citing no income. Experts, meanwhile, are split on how the system is responding to growing and changing needs. “The program is doing what it was designed to do: help very needy people get through a very difficult time,” says an official for the Department of Children and Families. “But for this program they would be in even more dire straits.” But Welfare needs to step up, counters another expert: “The food-stamp program is being asked to do too much. People need income support.”