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As the nation continues to be crippled by the economic downturn, a record number of Americans have turned to food stamps for assistance. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a 46.7 million Americans used food stamps, in the month of June. The number is up 51 percent since October of 2008.

By the end of the 2011 fiscal year, food stamp benefits cost the government $71.81 billion, making for a 43 percent increase from two years earlier. The staggering figures come after a Gallup poll— conducted with 18,000 people surveyed between January and June— revealed that one in five Americans can’t afford to put food on the table.

In the eyes of some experts, food stamps are a way of economic stimulation, since each dollar spent on food stamps translates to $1.73 circulated back into the economy.

President Obama has been blamed for the spike in numbers, but one small feat for his administration is the fact that following the 23 percent hike during his first year in office, the country has seen a  a slower growth in food stamp use thereafter.

Vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan has proposed that spending on food stamps be slashed by $134 billion over the next decade.


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Photo: New America Media