Woman uses food-stamp benefit card at grocery store.
Woman uses food-stamp benefit card at grocery store. - 
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KAI RYSSDAL: This next one is a tough story to hear the day before Thanksgiving. But any day now, the Agriculture Department is set to release its latest numbers on how many Americans are using food stamps -- possibly 30 million or more. And as the economy gets worse, that figure is expected to keep going up. Ashley Milne-Tyte has more.

ASHLEY MILNE-TYTE: Janika San Roman works as a university researcher in Miami. This summer her partner lost her job. In mid-October the couple applied for federal assistance, and received food stamps.

Janika San Roman: I've always worked very hard and, you know, managed my money properly. I never expected that we would need to take advantage of a program like that.

Her partner just landed a new job. But many food stamp applicants aren't as lucky.

JIM WEILL: The number's been rising by a couple of hundred thousand a month 'cause of the recession.

That's Jim Weill of the Food Research and Action Center. He'd like Congress to approve a temporary boost in food stamp benefits. He says, for one thing, they lag behind inflation, which is way up this year.

WEILL: It's also great for the economy because when people get food stamps they spend them right away because they're so desperately needy, and that works its way through the economy incredibly quickly.

He says the average food stamp benefit per person comes to $3 to $4 a day.

In New York, I'm Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.