Food stamp use has more than doubled among New York City residents since Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office in 2002.
Spending on food stamps increased more than 60 percent from 2002 to 2012 — from $1.28 billion to $3.44 billion, the Independent Budget Office of New York City revealed in data released Thursday.
IBO spokesman Doug Turetsky attributed the expansion to a more aggressive outreach effort by Bloomberg than his predecessor Rudy Giuliani’s administration, the New York Post reported Friday.
Known for his hardline stance against sugary beverages, Bloomberg did attempt to prevent food stamp recipients from using their benefits to purchase soda and sugary beverages in 2010 — with a proposal for a two-year pilot program to see if the restriction would help to alleviate obesity.
The Agriculture Department rejected the proposal calling it “too large and complex” to oversee, the New York Times reported in 2011.
New York City’s expansion has been less than the rest of the nation — which has seen the program’s cost double in President Obama’s first term and quadruple from 2001-2011.
Participation reached a record high in December — the most recent data month available — with 47,791,996 people enrolled in the program.
IBO’s report also revealed that the number of residents on public assistance has decreased and the number of disabled New Yorkers receiving Supplemental Security Income benefits has remained steady.