Food Stamp Beneficiaries Exceed 46,000,000 for 40 Straight Months

By Ali Meyer | March 11, 2015 | 10:05 AM EDT

Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) uses debit card technology to issue SNAP benefits.

( - The number of beneficiaries on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, has topped 46,000,000 for 40 straight months, according to new data released by the Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In December 2014, the latest month reported, there were 46,252,064 Americans on food stamps. Food stamp recipients have exceeded 46 million in each month since September 2011.

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The 46,252,064 on food stamps in December was down from the 46,263,096 on food stamps in November--a decline of 11,032.

As of July, the national population was 318,857,056, the Census Bureau estimates. Thus, the 46,252,064 on food stamps equaled 14.5 percent of the population.

While the number of beneficiaries declined over the month, the number of households on food stamps increased. There were 22,724,435 households on food stamps in December, which was up 28,141 from the 22,696,294 households on food stamps in November.

As of September, according to the Census Bureau, there were 115,831,000 households in the country. Thus, the 22,724,435 households on food stamps in December equaled 19.6 percent of the nation’s households.

Households on food stamps got an average benefit of $259.98 during the month, and total benefits for the month cost taxpayers $5,907,873,849.

In 1969, the average participation in the SNAP program stood at 2,878,000. In 2014, average participation grew to 46,536,000, an increase of 1516.96 percent.