Economic Research Report No. (ERR-37) 30 pp

February 2007

The 2005 Gulf Coast Hurricanes' Effect on Food Stamp Program Caseloads and Benefits Issued

In fall 2005, Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma devastated areas along much of the Gulf Coast resulting in large increases in food stamp caseloads and benefits issued. In November 2005, the number of people receiving food stamps reached a record 29.7 million, or about 4 million more participants than just 3 months earlier. Most of the increase in caseloads occurred in the Gulf Coast States that were hardest hit by the hurricanes-Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. The hurricanes' impact on caseloads in these States, in terms of both magnitude and duration, varied widely. States that received large numbers of evacuees from hurricane-affected areas also experienced disproportionate increases in caseloads relative to the other States. This study estimates that the hurricanes increased total food stamp benefits issued by about $1.2 billion, with most of it going to people located in the five Gulf Coast States.

Keywords: Food Stamp Program, Disaster Food Stamp Program, food stamp caseloads, food stamp benefits issued, hurricanes, Gulf Coast States, Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program, FANRP

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