The use of food stamps in Marshall County increased during the recession, assisting families in stretching their food dollars, contributing to local spending and helping spark a national debate about the future of the federal nutrition program.
The portion of Marshall County residents receiving food stamps hit 20.5% in 2011, according to the USDA Food and Nutrition Services. That’s an increase of 7.4 percentage points since 2007, the year the recession began. Across Tennessee, 20.4% of residents in 2011 received support from SNAP, as the food stamp program is officially known. Nationally, 14.8% of the population receives SNAP benefits.
Rural areas tend to have a higher percentage of the population receiving SNAP benefits than metropolitan areas.
This summer, Congress agreed to trim about $8 billion from SNAP over the next decade. Backers of the cuts said the program had expanded too much in recent years and was creating too much reliance on government assistance. SNAP expenditures increased 135% between 2007 and 2011.
Those opposed to the cuts believe the benefits help both the rural grocers and the recipients of the food stamps. Food stamps have been part of the farm bill for the past 50 years. The legislation’s combination of farming and nutrition programs has helped ensure the bill receives broad backing from farm-country representatives and more urban-based members who support anti-poverty programs.
Data for the article came from the USDA Food and Nutrition Services, the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Census. If you have any questions, call 865-688-9546 or go to www.dailyyonder.com/states/ and click on the state of Tennessee.