1 In 5 New Mexicans Getting Government Help With Food

New Mexico – In New Mexico, one in five people gets government help to buy food.

The Albuquerque Journal reports in a copyright story Monday the number of people enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, called SNAP, soared as the nation's economy began sinking a couple of years ago.

Now, more than 400,000 New Mexico residents get the benefits. Program officials say thousands more are eligible.

The nonprofit Food Research and Action Center says the number of people using SNAP is up 66 percent since January 2006.

SNAP benefits used to be called food stamps.

They're intended as a safety net for people who have fallen on tough times.

State figures show the average SNAP beneficiary in New Mexico received $296 a month in March.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.