Record-High 45.8 Millions Americans Using Food Stamps

According to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s latest report on its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (aka food stamps), a record 45.8 million Americans received SNAP benefits during the month of May, up 12% from the same month in 2010 and 34% from two years ago.

The largest increase came from Alabama, where 1.76 million residents used the benefits during May after storms devastated good chunks of the state. That’s more than double the number of Alabamans who participated in April.

While the Alabama number is likely what pushed the total number across the record-breaking line, that 12% year-over-year rise in SNAP participants isn’t coming from just one state.

Twenty-two states and the U.S. Virgin Islands experienced at least 10% growth in the number of residents using food stamps between May 2010 and May 2011. Three of those — Alabama, New Jersey and North Carolina — experienced more than 20% growth.

Meanwhile, only North Dakota, which already had the second fewest residents using food stamps, demonstrated any year-over-year decrease in the number of SNAP participants, and that was only -.1%, or about 81 people.

“The rise in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program indicates that the economy is still in tough shape and for a lot of people the recession has not ended,” Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist for ConvergEx, told ABC News. “It’s clear that the historical stigma of being on food stamps is quickly eroding because there are so many people on it. People don’t feel bad asking for help.”

Food Stamp Nation: Alabama Helps Push U.S. Program to All-Time High [ABC News]

SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM: NUMBER OF PERSONS PARTICIPATING [USDA.gov]