The number of individuals receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as food stamps, has exceeded 45 million for 56 straight months, according to data released by the Department of Agriculture.

There were 45,188,655 beneficiaries of the food stamp program in December 2015, the latest month for which data is available. The number declined by 265,216 from November to December.

The USDA has been tracking data on participation in the program since 1969, when average participation stood at 2,878,000. Since then, participation in the program has increased by more than 1,470 percent.

The number of food stamp recipients first exceeded 45 million in May 2011. Since then, the number has consistently exceeded 45 million, hitting a record high of nearly 47.8 million in December 2012.

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