The most recent data indicates about 15.7 million American households are on food stamps, with enrollment varying greatly from state to state.
The number of participants for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, climbed steadily beginning with the arrival of the Great Recession. Enrollment has since stabilized, declining slightly in 2013.
As a share of all households, Oregon (19.8 percent), Mississippi (19.4 percent) and Maine (18 percent) had the highest SNAP participation rates in 2013, according to Census estimates. Wyoming (5.9 percent) recorded the lowest SNAP participation rate of any state.
SNAP participation rates differ greatly by state, partially due to to differences in eligibility requirements and how states administer SNAP. Nationwide, the Census Bureau estimates that 13.5 percent of all households received SNAP benefits at some point in 2013.
State SNAP Participation Rates
Select a state below to view trends in SNAP participation rates for each state.
The following chart shows a different set of SNAP participation data compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Monthly totals are shown for individuals, rather than the household participation rates listed above.
The holidays are always the busiest time of the year for food banks. Those who help the hungry are preparing for even more recipients this year.
The farm bill that Congress is negotiating will likely include cuts to the food stamps program that nutrition advocates say will discourage poor people from making healthier choices with the dollars that remain.
The cuts and changes Congress has been weighing to the farm bill could knock millions off SNAP rolls and reverse years of progress states have made in streamlining applications. See data showing how each state could be affected.
While the economy recovers, SNAP participation hasn't yet fallen. View charts and updated data for each state.
More kinds of food stamp fraud would be explicitly subject to state sanctions, under a bill signed privately Monday at the state Capitol by Gov. Scott Walker. It was passed in the legislature with broad bipartisan support.
The House bill would cut about $2.5 billion a year — or a little more than 3 percent — from the food stamp program, which is used by 1 in 7 Americans.
Advocates for the poor now say that by weeding out a relatively small number of people with too many assets, the Department of Public Welfare made getting food stamps so complicated that deserving low-income people became inundated by paperwork and lost their benefits.
A temporary boost in food stamp benefits expired on Nov. 1. Now hungry families must turn to food banks and other public programs for help.