The Washington Post today reported that USDA data is expected to show that more than 30 million people in the US are receiving Federal nutritional assistance. This will be the largest number since the program launched in 1969 – surpassing the previous record levels following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Additional anecdotal evidence from food panties and other charitable organizations nationwide indicates rapidly increasing demand (coupled with an alarming drop off in donations).

An obvious strong correlation exists between unemployment and food stamp recipients (see graph below). Unemployment hit 6.5% in October and is predicted to increase in 2009. Additionally, despite the recent decline in commodity prices, increased food costs are also weighing heavily as CPI Food and Beverage jumped by 6.1% year-over-year in October.

As we enter the “New New Deal” era we expect that this data will be latched onto by members of the house and senate eager to advance their own policy agendas. Politicians love incendiary data, and what could be more compelling than 10% of the US population on food stamps?

Matthew Hedrick

Andrew Barber