Good news: The number of Americans using food stamps in 2014 declined slightly from the previous year. So why does the 2015 Index of Culture and Opportunity say this indicator is headed in the “wrong direction”?

There are a couple of reasons. For one, the food stamp program (officially known now as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) is still much larger today than it was a decade ago—or, indeed, just a few years ago. In 2008, it was below 30 million. By 2013, it had hit 47.6 million.

It has since dipped a bit, as I mentioned (to 46.5 million). But for it to still be so high, despite an improving economy, is certainly troubling.

“The program may appear to be on the right track,” Maura Corrigan, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, writes in the index. “But it is far from perfect and traveling much too slowly.”

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