A record 38.2 million Americans were enrolled in the food stamp program at latest count, up 246,000 from the previous month and the latest in record-high monthly tallies that began in December 2008.
Food stamps are the primary federal anti-hunger program, helping poor people buy groceries. The Agriculture Department updated enrollment data on Friday with a preliminary figure for November.
USDA estimates up to $58 billion will be spent on food stamps this fiscal year, which ends Sept 30, with average enrollment of 40.5 million people. Food stamps were renamed the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program in 2008.
Participation has surged since the financial-market turmoil of late 2008 and has set records each month since December 2008, when it reached 31.78 million. Enrollment is highest during times of economic distress.