Tens of millions of American children are among the recipients of food stamps, according to a new report that casts light on who benefits from the program that has been the subject of heated political debate.
The annual report from the United States Department of Agriculture showed that about 45 percent of food stamp benefits went to children under 18, totaling about 20 million youngsters. Nine percent of recipients were age 60 or older, and nearly 10 percent were disabled adults who were under 60, according to the analysis of food stamp usage for the fiscal year that ended in September 2012.
The total cost of the program in the 2012 fiscal year was $78.4 billion, which has raised concerns among some lawmakers that costs are growing out of hand. But economists said that doesn’t take into account the toll it would take if the benefits were cut sharply, as some have proposed.
“The vast majority of these benefits go to people who, you know, we don’t expect them to go out and work themselves,” said Diane Schanzenbach, an associate professor of human development and social policy at Northwestern University.