Food Stamp Usage Drops Below 40 Million for First Time in 8 Years

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 19: A grocery store advertises that they accept food stamps in the South Bronx on September 19, 2013 in New York City. According to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau report, over a quarter-million people in the South Bronx are living in poverty, making the 16th …
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Food stamp participation dropped below 40 million for the first time in eight years, according to the latest numbers on food stamp enrollment from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The most recent USDA data reveals that 39,604,428 people were enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—the program that administers food stamps—as of April 2018. The last time enrollment dipped below 40 million was in February 2010, when 39,588,993 people received SNAP benefits.

The latest data on enrollment shows that overall enrollment in the food stamp program has reached historic lows, reaching its lowest point in eight years.

But food stamp enrollment has been steadily declining over the past few months, keeping pace with the downward trend in SNAP participation since 2013.

Using the latest data from the USDA, here is the month-by-month breakdown of how many people discontinued their SNAP benefits in fiscal year (FY) 2018:

October to November- 4,015,110

November to December- 358,242

December to January- 734,178

January to February- 608,039

February to March- 32,294

March to April- 494,961

The Trump administration’s push to reform the country’s welfare system combined with favorable economic conditions in the U.S. might have contributed to the decline in people seeking assistance from the welfare program.

Under Trump, 2.5 million fewer people discontinued their participation in SNAP, mainly due to the Trump administration’s attempts to keep down program costs at the federal and state levels.

The USDA announced in March that it hired an “integrity officer” to boost the administration’s efforts to prevent fraud in the country’s food stamp program and announced in February the rollout of its “Harvest Box” program to give SNAP recipients a box of food as part of their monthly benefits package.

The agency’s Food and Nutrition Service also released data last month on improper SNAP payments for the first time since 2014—when the Obama administration was in power—in its effort to increase transparency and integrity in the nation’s food stamp program.

But the Trump administration’s latest effort to reform SNAP may change how the federal government administers welfare programs, which in turn, may affect how many people stay enrolled in food stamps.  A report released in June revealed that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is seeking to move welfare programs such as SNAP and other safety-net programs under the umbrella of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

.