US to spend 27 pct more on food stamps in ’09

From reuters today:

Some 31 million Americans receive food stamps at latest count, down slightly from the record 31.6 million in September 2008. The average benefit was $119 a month per person and $266 per household.

“The cost really has gone up because more people are out of work,” said Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, whose panel oversees food stamps.

The U.S. unemployment was 6.7 percent at latest count. Analysts expect the December rate, to be released on Friday, to hit 7 percent.

“The faltering economy has increased outlays for unemployment compensation and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,” CBO said, using the new, formal name for food stamps.

It forecast outlays would rise to $50 billion for food stamps this year from $39 billion last year, due to higher enrollment and rising food prices. Jobless benefits would total $79 billion, up from $43 billion.

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