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States where food stamps are used the most

  • #20. California

    - Percent of households receiving food stamps: 16.2%
    - Total households receiving food stamps: 2,118,468
    - Average benefit per household: $235.81 (#27 highest among all states)
    - Poverty rate: 12.8% (#25 highest among all states)

    California continues to battle a homeless crisis and wildfires that negatively affect low-income residents. The state is pioneering efforts to make food stamp benefits eligible for use in restaurants.

  • #19. Delaware

    - Percent of households receiving food stamps: 16.3%
    - Total households receiving food stamps: 59,840
    - Average benefit per household: $229.67 (#32 highest among all states)
    - Poverty rate: 12.5% (#27 highest among all states)

    Delaware is one of the few states where poverty rates are increasing, according to some studies. Programs like The Bridge, a mobile van that helps prisoners get back on their feet by providing services like food and assistance with food stamp applications, are working to decrease high poverty numbers.

  • #18. Washington

    - Percent of households receiving food stamps: 16.3%
    - Total households receiving food stamps: 473,056
    - Average benefit per household: $204.86 (#47 highest among all states)
    - Poverty rate: 10.3% (#42 highest among all states)

    Washington has a low poverty rate and doles out some of the highest average food stamp benefits in the country. To keep the momentum going, Seattle residents can now use food stamps to buy groceries from Amazon. However, some academics believe the poverty levels amid growing wealth in Seattle is "striking."

  • #17. Georgia

    - Percent of households receiving food stamps: 16.8%
    - Total households receiving food stamps: 637,959
    - Average benefit per household: $262.40 (#7 highest among all states)
    - Poverty rate: 14.3% (#13 highest among all states)

    Poverty in Georgia is steadily declining, but the state still has one of the highest poverty rates in the country. The Atlanta Community Food Bank reports 21.1% of children they serve are food insecure. In recent years, the food bank gave out over 56 million meals.

  • #16. Massachusetts

    - Percent of households receiving food stamps: 17.3%
    - Total households receiving food stamps: 455,252
    - Average benefit per household: $205.40 (#45 highest among all states)
    - Poverty rate: 10% (#43 highest among all states)

    Massachusetts has one of the lowest average food stamp benefits in the country. The MetroWest region of Massachusetts is struggling with rising homeless rates and children living in poverty, and research suggests that living in poverty can affect school test scores.

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  • #15. Hawaii

    - Percent of households receiving food stamps: 17.6%
    - Total households receiving food stamps: 79,998
    - Average benefit per household: $463.69 (#1 highest among all states)
    - Poverty rate: 8.8% (#49 highest among all states)

    Hawaii gives out the highest average food stamps benefit in the U.S. and has the lowest food insecurity rate nationwide. The Hawaii food bank feeds almost 287,000 residents yearly.

  • #14. Illinois

    - Percent of households receiving food stamps: 18.2%
    - Total households receiving food stamps: 886,924
    - Average benefit per household: $246.42 (#18 highest among all states)
    - Poverty rate: 12.1% (#29 highest among all states)

    About 1.5 million Illinois residents live in poverty, and one in six children struggle with hunger. Nonprofits like Operation Food and Inspiration Corp. work to close the gap. Illinois also joined the multi-state lawsuit against federal cutbacks to food stamp programs.

  • #13. Oklahoma

    - Percent of households receiving food stamps: 18.3%
    - Total households receiving food stamps: 271,229
    - Average benefit per household: $253.37 (#12 highest among all states)
    - Poverty rate: 15.6% (#9 highest among all states)

    Oklahoma's food insecurity is a glaring problem. Hunger Free Oklahoma reports that hunger costs the state "$1.4 billion each year through increased illness and decreased academic achievement." Of Oklahoma's 77 counties, 54 are considered food deserts—defined as areas with scarce amounts of grocery stores and fresh produce.

  • #12. Alabama

    - Percent of households receiving food stamps: 18.4%
    - Total households receiving food stamps: 341,373
    - Average benefit per household: $249.09 (#15 highest among all states)
    - Poverty rate: 16.8% (#7 highest among all states)

    In Alabama, black communities are hit particularly hard by food insecurity. Alabama Possible aims to reduce poverty throughout the state. Alabama political leaders are also criticizing the federal plan to cut back food stamp benefits.

  • #11. Pennsylvania

    - Percent of households receiving food stamps: 18.6%
    - Total households receiving food stamps: 943,248
    - Average benefit per household: $215.45 (#40 highest among all states)
    - Poverty rate: 12.2% (#28 highest among all states)

    More than 36% of households in Pennsylvania receiving food stamp benefits have children. Some young athletes in the Philadelphia area advocate for competing in sports, which they say helps ease food insecurity by keeping them in better shape (improved cardiovascular health, decreased risks of chronic obesity) and decreasing bullying. Overall, Pennsylvania's 12.1% food insecurity rate is right in the middle nationally.

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