Food stamp use skyrockets: How one family puts food on the table


While most of us are preoccupied with gorging ourselves on turkey and stuffing, it can be easy to forget about the growing number of people who are struggling just to eat one meal a day. In fact, a recent government survey found that more than one in seven U.S. households are finding it difficult to afford putting food on the table.

Those 14.5% of U.S. households, representing about 49 million people, make up the highest rate of "food-insecure" households since the U.S. Department of Agriculture began monitoring the issue in 1995. As the recession has deepened, so has the number of people using food stamps from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, with participation growing by 23% in the last year, according to Hans Billger of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The situation would be far worse if not for food pantries and federal food assistance programs, such as SNAP.For the nearly 35.9 million people who receive SNAP benefits, they're a lifeline to survival. In July, more people were using SNAP benefits than at any other time in the history of the program.

The average SNAP benefit for one person is $101.53 per month with a maximum of $200. For a household of four, the average benefit is $226.59 per month (the maximum benefit is $668 per month). WalletPop recently spoke with a few families who rely on food stamps to find out just how hard it is to stretch their resources and put healthy meals on the table.