Food stamp redemptions are good for retailers. In 2009, they pumped $50 billion into the economy. And, according to a 2008 USDA publication, the benefits extend beyond stores: “Every $5 in new food stamp benefits generates a total of $9.20 in community spending,” and each “$1 billion of retail food demand by food stamp recipients generates 3,300 farm jobs.”

History suggests that the pernicious anti-welfare rhetoric that has recently been attached to the program will prove powerful and could threaten to discredit it.

With the increasing protest against economic inequality across the country, the 99% should defend food stamps as a crucial pillar of the American promise, and as something good for the economy. In today’s hard times, with growing poverty and rising food prices, there is widespread recognition that making ends meet is no small feat, even for the middle class, and that food stamps are essential.