Four years after the end of the recession, the economy has been growing, employers have been hiring and the number of people relying on food stamps in Georgia has been going … up.
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The impact of Georgia’s Recession
In fiscal year 2008, Georgia ranked 15 in the proportion of food stamp recipients.
In fiscal year 2012, Georgia ranked 6.
Top ten states
ranked by percentage of people getting food stamps
(State, Number of recipients, Percent of population)
Mississippi 659,872 22.24%
New Mexico 438,252 21.28%
Oregon 815,221 21.28%
Louisiana 948,758 20.93%
Tennessee 1,316,810 20.75%
Georgia 1,912,839 19.75%
Kentucky 849,248 19.57%
Alabama 910,244 19.04%
Maine 252,860 19.04%
South Carolina 869,801 18.81%
Sources: Department of Agriculture, staff research
In metro Atlanta
The most recent data show the five core counties with more than 640,000 recipients, according to Aaron Wiley of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service.
Food stamp recipients in metro Atlanta spend about $900 million a year on food.
Food stamp program
Origins: Roots in the 1930s New Deal, then a pilot program in the 1960s
It’s not really “food stamps”: official name is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
It’s not even stamps: The debit-like cards permit purchase only of food, not alcohol or cigarettes. There are no restrictions on what kinds of food.
Eligibility: Household gross income cannot exceed 130 percent of the poverty level. For a family of four, that’s slightly less than $2,000 per month, according to the state Department of Community Health.
Maximum benefit: $668 a month for a family of four
Average benefit: $133 per person
Average food bill: $754 a month for a family of four in metro Atlanta
Sources: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Policy Institute