U.S. Food-Stamp Use Reached Record 46.5 Million in December

U.S. food-stamp use, which Republicans have cited as evidence of a failing economy, rose 0.5 percent to a record in December, the government said.

About 46.514 million Americans received aid, up from 46.286 million in November, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in an e-mail. Participation was 5.5 percent higher than a year earlier.

Food stamps have become a theme in the presidential campaign, as enrollment has increased 47 percent since December 2008, the month before President Barack Obama took office. Annual spending has more than doubled in four years to a record $75.3 billion, a level called unsustainable by Republicans including Newt Gingrich, who has labeled Obama “the best food-stamp president in American history.”

The number of Americans receiving assistance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the initiative better-known as food stamps, set records every month from December 2008 until June 2011.

The government spent $6.22 billion on the program in December, the last month for which food-stamp figures are available.

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