The good news on Food Stamps? The number of people receiving food stamps hasn't increased at all over the past year. The bad news? There are still almost 50 million people in the U.S. who receive foods stamps, and the government is spending almost $80 billion per year on this program.
The top chart shows annual data for the food stamp program, while the bottom chart shows monthly data which go back only to late 2008, with the latest datapoint being October of last year. This really puts the good and bad in perspective. This program started out with humble origins, but has now morphed—as do almost all government entitlement programs—to something that touches the lives of 1 out of every 7 Americans.
Fortunately, and despite the government's best efforts to continue expanding the rolls of food stamp recipients, it looks like things are no longer getting worse. Although it's a national tragedy that this program has spun so far out of control (consider the likelihood of massive fraud, not to mention the perverse incentives created), it is nevertheless a relief to see that it appears to have reached its limits for the time being. That's small comfort, but a positive sign on the margin.
See more details on the history of the program in my post, over a year ago, here.