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Food Stamp Usage Declines for Eight Straight Months

Work for Food stamps
Yoon S. Byun/Boston Globe/Getty Images

The number of people on food stamps has declined for eight straight months, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA data reveals that the number of participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has consistently declined every month since the beginning of the fiscal year (FY) 2018—for a total of eight months.

Using the latest data from the USDA, here is the breakdown of how many people discontinued their SNAP benefits each month over the past eight months of FY 2018:

October to November- 4,050,688
November to December- 360,995
December to January- 737,465
January to February- 385,456
February to March- 39,701
March to April- 426,085
April to May- 139,570
May to June- 143,834

The continued decline in enrollment during these past few months is on pace with the steady decline in SNAP participation since 2013, and the decline seems to be continuing during President Trump’s tenure in office.

The USDA data shows that since February 2017—Trump’s first full month in office—enrollment in SNAP dropped by 2,789,852, which can be mainly attributed to the Trump administration’s efforts to reform the nation’s food stamp program, and the improving economy.

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

Trump also released an executive order on welfare reform in April that would require the USDA to issue updated rules for those receiving benefits such as food stamps, and invest in workforce development programs.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) also released a report in June seeking to change how the government administers welfare programs like SNAP, proposing that such programs should be moved under the jurisdiction of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The improving economy over the past few months has also brought more people off food stamps and into the job market. The American economy added 201,000 jobs in August 2018, and the unemployment rate has stayed low at 3.9 percent. Jobless claims also fell to a record low of 203,000—the lowest level for claims since 1969.

Wages have also risen among American households, causing them to make enough money to be able to support themselves without government assistance.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced Wednesday that the median household income for Americans reached an all-time high in 2017, and the number of Americans working full-time jobs increased by 2.4 million.

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