The number of Americans forced to rely on federal food aid, known as the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), has increased dramatically in recent years.
SNAP, known colloquially as "food stamps," give individuals and families a small monthly allotment on a debit card, allowing them to purchase groceries and other basic necessities.
According to AOL's Daily Finance, like unemployment and home foreclosure rates, the number of families using food stamps should also be used as a measure of the national economic climate.
The Wall Street Journal reports,
Some 42,389,619 Americans received food stamps in August, a 17% rise from the same time a year ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which tracks the data. That number is up 58.5% from August 2007, before the recession began.
Supporters can get involved helping hungry Americans by donating or volunteering at a local food bank through Feeding America.