In May 2013, 47.6 million Americans were participating in USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Prior to the 2007-09 recession, an average of 26.5 million people per month in fiscal year (FY) 2006 were receiving SNAP benefits to purchase food in authorized food stores. In addition to this growth in participation, the composition of the SNAP caseload shifted somewhat between children and nonelderly adults, as the economic downturn led more adults to qualify and apply for benefits. In FY 2011 (the latest year for which age-specific data are available), children represented 45.1 percent of all SNAP participants, down from 49.2 percent in FY 2006, while adults age 18-59 accounted for 46.3 percent of participants in FY 2011, up from 42.1 percent in FY 2006. Elderly participants’ share of the SNAP caseload was relatively stable over this period, at 8.5 percent in FY 2011 and 8.7 percent in FY 2006. This chart is found in ERS’s new data product, Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials, released on September 16, 2013.
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