Food stamps are surging to record levels, as some families continue to use them.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, for most people, is rising by 7 percent over the past month, according to the Federal Reserve.
The number of people enrolled has jumped nearly 16 percent over a year ago, the Fed said.
The increase is fueled by a surge in food stamp use after Thanksgiving.
That means the program, which has helped feed some 4.7 million people since its inception in 1996, is now growing faster than the overall economy.
The food stamp program accounts for about a quarter of the total economy, the federal Reserve said in a report Friday.
The program is growing at 2.7 percent a month.
Food stamp enrollment grew to nearly 6.5 million people last month, up from about 5.5 percent a year earlier, the Labor Department said.
Food stamp use has surged since Thanksgiving, when some families opted to use the money for meals, groceries and rent.
Families are also now using the money to supplement income.
More people are relying on SNAP benefits than ever before, with many people who have lost jobs or are looking for them taking advantage of the program’s new incentives.
A new study released Thursday by the National Employment Law Project found that in November 2016, the first full month of the Trump administration, more than 8.5 billion people received food stamps.
The number of Americans receiving food stamps was nearly 8 million higher than in November 2015, the previous highest month, the report said.
It also found that the number of working-age adults receiving food assistance grew by 1.5 percentage points in November.
That increase was driven by an increase in the number receiving food and nutrition assistance, as well as the unemployment rate.
There are some limitations to the study, however.
It only includes people receiving food or nutrition assistance.
Also, the data does not account for SNAP benefits that go to those who don’t qualify for them.