Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, reached another high in September, according to new data released by the United Stated Department of Agriculture.
The most recent data on SNAP participation were released Friday, and showed that 47,710,324 people were enrolled in the program in September, an increase of 607,559 from the 47,102,765 enrolled in August.
The number of households enrolled in the program also increased from 22,684,463 in August to 22,973,698 in September, an increase of 289,235. The average benefit, according to the new data, was $134.29 per person and $278.89 per household.
Texas, California, and Florida were the states with the most recipients, the Agriculture Department reported.
The new numbers mean that an estimated one in 6.5 people in America were on food stamps in September.
In the 1970s, one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps. Since 2001, spending on the program has quadrupled and doubled in the last four years. (RELATED: Republicans charge that policy, not necessity, has led to booming food stamp rolls)
USDA notes that its data are preliminary and subject to revisions. Additionally, USDA says, its numbers factor in those on SNAP as a means of disaster assistance, though the September numbers do not include people enrolled in the program due to Hurricane Sandy, which hit New York and New Jersey in late October.
The new numbers come as Newark Mayor Cory Booker is engaged in a highly publicized “Food Stamp Challenge,” attempting to live solely on an approximately $30 weekly benefit for his entire weekly food budget, to raise awareness about the plight of people enrolled in SNAP. The benefit is, however, intended to supplement a person’s overall food budget.