Highly Educated but Living on Food Stamps [Infographic]

By on January 9, 2013
Over the past few years, a tough economy has forced highly educated people to turn to food stamps and other forms of welfare for help. Over 5,000 PhDs are working as janitors, and many more working as waiters, secretaries, attendants, clerks, and telemarketers. In fact, the number of PhDs and Masters Degree holders on welfare more than tripled between 2007 and 2010.

A record number of people are depending on government financed food assistance with the use of food-stamps increasing from a monthly caseload of 17 million in 2000 to 44 million people in 2011, according to data from the US Department of Agriculture.

In 2011, almost 50 million Americans, or 15 percent of the population, relied on food stamps and recipients included a growing pool of highly educated people whose advanced degrees have not been sufficient to insulate them from financial hardship.

Melissa Bruninga-Matteau, a 43-year-old white woman and adjunct professor with a PhD in medieval history, who came to rely on food stamps and Medicaid, said:


“The media gives this image that people who are on public assistance are dropouts, on drugs or alcohol, and are irresponsible. I’m not irresponsible. I’m highly educated … I never made a lot of money but I have been able to make enough to live on. Until now.”
America's PHDs on Food Stamps