Three years into an economic recovery, this is the lasting scar of collapse: a federal program that began as a last resort for a few million hungry people has grown into an economic lifeline for entire towns. Spending on SNAP has doubled in the past four years and tripled in the past decade, surpassing $78 billion last year. A record 47 million Americans receive the benefit — including 13,752 in Woonsocket, one-third of the town’s population, where the first of each month now reveals twin shortcomings of the U.S. economy:
So many people are forced to rely on government support.
The government is forced to support so many people.
The 1st is always circled on the office calendar at International Meat Market, where customers refer to the day in the familiar slang of a holiday. It is Check Day. Milk Day. Pay Day. Mother’s Day.
“Uncle Sam Day,” Pichardo said now, late on Feb. 28, as he watched new merchandise roll off the trucks. Out came 40 cases of Ramen Noodles. Out came 230 pounds of ground beef and 180 gallons of orange juice.
Grim, grim, grim.