Here are two quick items that help provide perspective on the generosity (or lack thereof) of the safety net.
First, the average household that receives food stamps gets less than $10 per day.
In an average month in fiscal year 2010, SNAP provided benefits to 40.3 million people living in over 18.6 million households across the United States. The total cost of the program in fiscal year 2010 was $68.3 billion, $64.7 billion of which went to SNAP benefits and the remainder to program administration. The average monthly SNAP benefit for all participating households in fiscal year 2010 was $290.
Compared with fiscal year 2009, the total number of SNAP participants in fiscal year 2010 increased by more than 20 percent while SNAP benefits increased by more than 28 percent. The continued growth in SNAP participation from 2009 to 2010 is likely attributable to the slow recovery from the recent economic recession, expansions in SNAP eligibility, and continued outreach efforts.
Second, this post by Matt Yglesias that shows the recommended budget for someone working two jobs (240 hours a month or so) on minimum wage.
And, while we are at it, here’s some evidence to evaluate the ratchet up argument that emergency fiscal relief often locks in an elevated level of spending.