Truth to Power

Could you live on food stamps alone?

Living on Nothing but Food Stamps

CAPE CORAL, Fla. – After an improbable rise from the Bronx projects to a job selling Gulf Coast homes, Isabel Bermudez lost it all to an epic housing bust – the six-figure income, the house with the pool and the investment property.

Now, as she papers the county with résumés and girds herself for rejection, she is supporting two daughters on an income that inspires a double take: zero dollars in monthly cash and a few hundred dollars in food stamps.

With food-stamp use at a record high and surging by the day, Ms. Bermudez belongs to an overlooked subgroup that is growing especially fast: recipients with no cash income.

About six million Americans receiving food stamps report they have no other income, according to an analysis of state data collected by The New York Times. In declarations that states verify and the federal government audits, they described themselves as unemployed and receiving no cash aid – no welfare, no unemployment insurance, and no pensions, child support or disability pay. </em>


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