New government figures show that 31.8 million Americans were receiving food stamps at the latest count, an increase of 700,000 in just one month. For the fiscal year ended September 30th, the program will cost at least $51 billion, an increase of more than 20%. The average benefit was $115 a month for individuals and $255 a month for families.

What's so interesting about these numbers is how relatively inexpensive it is: less than a tenth of what we're spending on TARP, and this for a program that has a very tangible benefit to society. Feeding the hungry is somehow more appealing than sending checks to pay 7-figure bonuses at investment banks.

As part of the stimulus package, food stamp benefits will temporarily increase by 13% in April, a pretty good use of stimulus money if you ask me. 100% of that money will be pumped into the economy, and may enable some low-income people to eat more healthfully. A CNN reporter recently lived on a food stamp budget for a month and did a story on it. Watch the video below.


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