Food Stamp Stimulus Felt Coast-to-Coast

Customer uses food stamps
A customer pays with food stamps at a Los Angeles farm market.

Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill have begun talking about the idea of a second stimulus package to boost the economy. Meanwhile, the effects of the first one are being felt in places you might not expect.

CBS News correspondent Terrell Brown reports on one ripple effect stretching from coast to coast.

John Sweredoski is seeing the green shoots of economic recovery on his own farm in southern California

"I'm hiring people. I've never sold so many vegetables in my life," said Sweredoski, co-owner of Takahashi-Sweredoski Farms.

Sweredoski is reaping the early benefits of President Obama's economic stimulus program which gives poor families additional food stamp money to spend each month.

One Los Angeles market has had an 88 percent increase in food stamp purchases and that has given Sweredoski more money to spend on expansion.

"I recently bought a new John Deere tractor," he said, a purchase that hopefully added - or at least saved - American jobs in another part of the country.

Starting in April, a family of four on food stamps received an extra $80 a month - from $525 to $606.

The Department of Agriculture estimates that every $5 of food stamp spending results in $9.20 worth of economic activity.

That's why the food stamp boost is also helping this in New York City, where one supermarket manager says his sales are up 10 percent since the stimulus program started.

"We're actually thinking of hiring more people," said Jose Almonte, the manager of an Associated Supermarket.

"Food stamps have the biggest bang for the buck of any kind of stimulus," said economist Mark Zandi.

That's because food stamps put money into the hands of people who will spend it quickly.

It's estimated that a $1 increase in food stamps creates $1.73 in stimulus. Infrastructure, another high-impact stimulus creates $1.59 for every dollar spent. Compare that to tax cuts which generate only $1.03 for every dollar returned to taxpayers

The food stamp stimulus, while powerful, is temporary. But it's a spark that can ignite business - and put more food on the table during difficult times.