The article attributes the rise in food stamp use primarily to the economy, but also notes that there has been some loosening of eligibility restrictions. I can tell you that the eligibility restrictions are very rigorous.
I recently had a student come to me in distress because she found out she was ineligible for food stamps, despite having no assets, because of her student status.
I've had former students (since graduated) with children who really needed the stamps, but were deemed ineligible because they had some limited retirement assets.
I think growing dependence on food stamps dramatizes quite clearly the poor economic conditions facing too many Americans:
Paletta, D. & Porter, C. (2013, March 28). Use of Food Stamps Swells Even as Economy Improves. The Wall Street Journal, A1, A12.
[Excerpted] Enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as the modern-day food-stamp benefit is known, has soared 70% since 2008 to a record 47.8 million as of December 2012… The biggest factor behind the upward march of food stamps is a sluggish job market and a rising poverty rate… [end]
Majia here: Rising reliance on food stamps is a symptom of the underlying collapse of the middle-class in America I’ve been chronicling since I began this blog several years ago.
I reported earlier this week on a recent research paper that argues that technology has essentially been used to ‘de-skill’ knowledge workers, thereby eliminating the need for many ‘managerial’ level workers. Globalization and automation have today 'hollowed' out the workforce.
What we have left is a part-time, ‘low-skilled’ workforce with low wages and benefits and a shrinking pool of well-paid and compensated (albeit often overworked) professional class of workers. See the discussion here