Wednesday, July 22, 2009

National Disgrace: More U.S. Troops Relying on Food Stamps

Bryan Mitchell writes on

Military members and their families are using more food stamps than in previous years – redeeming them last year at nearly twice the civilian rate, according to Defense Commissary Agency figures.

The agency reports that more than $31 million worth of food stamps were used at commissaries nationwide in 2008 – an increase of about $6.2 million, or more than 25 percent – from the $24.8 million redeemed in 2007. That contrasts with a 13 percent overall increase in food stamp use by Americans for the same period, according to the Department of Agriculture, which administers the food stamp program.

The spike reverses a 5 percent decrease in food stamp redemptions by military families from 2006 to 2007.

The commissary agency stressed that its figures include military retirees as well as Reservists and National Guardsmen who shop at its commissaries. Commissary agency officials were unable to provide numbers for the first half of 2009.

The rise in food stamp usage in the military may also be attributed to a recent change in the way the program is administered. Program users may now use a debit card to buy with food stamps rather than traditional paper vouchers – decreasing their visibility and so eliminating any stigma or reluctance to using the government-funded aid.

The increase in food stamp usage by military families can be viewed as part of a larger, national trend. Figures show that food stamp use had been rising sharply across the country even before the current recession, even though much of the previous decade was marked by a robust economy.

More here.


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