The programme is the US’s biggest domestic anti-hunger scheme, providing about $112 (€83, £76) a month per recipient or about $250 per household to buy food.
In the last year alone, the number of recipients of food stamps has risen by 16 per cent, according to statistics from the US Department of Agriculture, which manages the scheme. Since 2000, the number has rocketed from 17m to more than 32.2m. The increase of 15.2m is equal to the population of the Netherlands.
The US spent $37.6bn on the scheme in 2008. As part of President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package, those who received food stamps will see a 13 per cent increase in their monthly support in April – equal to about $80 per household.
The previous peak was reached in 1994, after the economic crisis of 1991-92, when the number of people on food stamps reached 27m."