“Dec. 7 (Bloomberg) — Louis Holland had five employees at his carpentry business in Walkersville, Maryland, during the housing boom. Now he’s working alone, and his family has joined many local residents collecting food stamps.
“We’re all in the same boat here,” said Louis’s wife, Kellie, 40, who’s been looking for part-time work while caring for their sons, ages 8 and 14, and her ailing mother. “Trying to keep up, and hoping things turn around.”
Driven by high unemployment, food-stamp use nationally has soared by two-thirds since the end of 2007 to more than 46 million recipients, about a seventh of the U.S. population. The government spent a record $71.8 billion on the program in the last fiscal year, or about 12 percent of the national grocery bill, underscoring the benefit’s importance as revenue for grocers led by Kroger Co., Safeway Inc. and Supervalu Inc., the three biggest U.S. chains by sales.