The number of Americans on food stamps has skyrocketed in some unexpected places, underscoring the trouble families are having just trying to scrape by as the economy falters.
According to Census data released Tuesday, last year 10.3 percent of all households were on the benefits known formally as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Forty-six states registered an increase, but six of them -- some of which do not suffer from high unemployment -- saw their food stamp rolls swell by more than 30 percent over the prior year. The six states are Arizona, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, Vermont and Wisconsin.
Though Nevada's 14.4 percent unemployment is the highest in the nation, Vermont and New Hampshire have some of the lowest rates -- 6 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively.
Recent federal statistics have shown that families are signing up for the program in historic numbers across the country. The number of Americans on the program reached a record high of 41.3 million in June. The increasing monthly totals have set records for 19 consecutive months.
The aid is available for recipients with incomes near the poverty line, not just the unemployed. As expected, the rise in food stamp recipients coincides with a rise in poverty.
Separate Census figures released Tuesday showed the number of people in poverty grew to 43 million last year. Census estimates released along with the food stamp report showed increases in 31 states between 2008 and 2009 in the number and percentage of people in poverty. That includes all six states that saw the number of food stamp recipients grow by more than 30 percent.