NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Nearly 15% of the U.S. population relied on food stamps in May, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
The number of Americans using the government's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) -- more commonly referred to as food stamps -- shot to an all-time high of 45.8 million in May, the USDA reported. That's up 12% from a year ago, and 34% higher than two years ago.
The program provides monthly benefits to low-income individuals and families, which they can use at stores that accept SNAP benefits.
To qualify for food stamps, an individual's income can't exceed $1,174 a month or $14,088 a year -- an amount that is 130% of the national poverty level.
The average food stamp benefit was $133.80 per person and $283.65 per household in May.
The highest concentration of food stamp users were in California, Florida, New York and Texas -- where more than 3 million residents in each state received food stamps in May.
But a spike in food stamp users in Alabama may have been responsible for pushing total usage unusually higher in May. Following a series of devastating storms, many residents received disaster assistance under the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the USDA said. Food stamp use in the state surged from 868,813 in April to 1,762,481 in May.
"USDA does not anticipate that trend of increase to continue, given that it appears to represent a response to a single disaster," the USDA said.
Are you a new food stamp user? If you're interested in sharing your story about how you get by on food stamps and budget your costs, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for the chance to be included in an upcoming story on CNNMoney.com.
|What we want Apple to unveil at WWDC|
|Millennials squeezed out of buying a home|
|7 traits the rich have in common|
|Big Data knows you're sick, tired and depressed|
|Your car is a giant computer - and it can be hacked|
Carlos Rodriguez is trying to rid himself of $15,000 in credit card debt, while paying his mortgage and saving for his son's college education.
Susan Carson and Laura DeLallo make $225,000 and have half a million in retirement savings, but their sprawling portfolios is proving hard to manage.
|Overnight Avg Rate||Latest||Change||Last Week|
|30 yr fixed||3.43%||3.40%|
|15 yr fixed||2.69%||2.66%|
|30 yr refi||3.44%||3.44%|
|15 yr refi||2.73%||2.72%|
Today's featured rates: