SNAP rolls rose as coronavirus spread across U.S.

Food stamp enrollment climbed by 479,000 people, or 1.3 percent, in March, in the early days of combating the novel coronavirus and the economic slowdown that accompanied it, said the USDA. Experts have said the pandemic could result in the highest SNAP participation ever, topping the record of 47.6 million during fiscal 2013 during the slow recovery from the Great Recession.

Some 37.45 million people received SNAP benefits during March, up from 36.87 million in February. USDA’s food stamp data typically lag three months behind the current day. The increase in March was the first in four months. USDA posted the March data on Friday.

SNAP enrollment rise during periods of economic distress and falls during prosperous times. The March increase occurred at the same time the US jobless rate rose to 4.4 percent from February’s 3.5 percent. Unemployment skyrocketed to 14.7 percent in April and declined to 13.3 percent in May, according to the Labor Department.