On average, 42.2 million Americans received food stamps in 2017, down 11 percent from 2013, when food-stamp usage reached record levels. From 2000 to 2013, food stamp participation grew every year except 2007.
The food stamps program, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, cost American taxpayers $68 billion in 2017. That's 4 percent less than last year and 15 percent less than the historical high of $79.9 billion in 2013.
The number of food stamp recipients has been dropping for four years, prompted by an economic recovery as well as welfare reforms on the state level. In Alabama, food-stamp use fell by 85 percent in 13 counties after the state imposed work requirements for childless adults. In Georgia, 21 counties saw a significant reduction in food stamp recipients after the state restored the work requirement.
The Trump administration has proposed innovative and unprecedented changes to the food stamps program, including the USDA Foods Package, a monthly parcel that would be given to about 80 percent of all current food stamp recipients. The so-called Harvest Boxes would include American-made, shelf-stable foods like milk, cereal, pasta, and canned produce. Some have compared the idea to Blue Apron, a meal-kit delivery company.
The parcels would account for half of the benefits, while the other half would be deposited to electronic benefit transfer cards, which are already in use.
The total enrollment number dropped under Trump despite a spike in participation that resulted from several destructive hurricanes.