Food Stamps and American Hunger
Food stamp recipient Lisa Zilligen, 28, serves lunch to her three children -- Miles, 20 months, Olivia, 6, and Danielle, 8 -- in her home in Chicago, Nov. 23, 2009. (AP)

Food stamp recipient Lisa Zilligen, 28, serves lunch to her three children -- Miles, 20 months, Olivia, 6, and Danielle, 8 -- in her home in Chicago, Nov. 23, 2009. (AP)

One in eight Americans now gets food stamps. One in eight. Among American children, one of every four.

Food stamp use surged under President George W. Bush. In the economic crisis of the past year, it has exploded. All over the country. In communities where people thought they would never be on food stamps — but now are.

The longterm poor and the newly jobless, city and suburb — 36 million people.

What does it mean for our country? What does it say about our economy?

This hour, On Point: America’s exploding dependence on food stamps, and what it tells us.

You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.


Joining us from Washington is Jason DeParle, reporter for The New York Times. He has written extensively about poverty and food insecurity in the U.S., most recently in last Sunday’s front-page story, “Food Stamp Use Soars, and Stigma Fades.”

Also from Washington we’re joined by Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and former Governor of Iowa.

Joining us in our studio is Tiziana Dearing, president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston.

Mike Joseph joins us from Peoria, Illinois. He is the Produce Merchandising Rep. for Kroger Supermarkets in the Peoria area.

David Young joins us from Mason, Ohio. He is President of the Board of Commissioners of Warren County and a small business owner. He recently appealed to the state government to strengthen the eligibility requirements to make sure people don’t abuse the food stamp program.

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