Enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) grew from 28 million in 2008 to 44.5 million in 2011 due to the economic fallout of the recession. Program growth slowed from 2011 to 2012, posting just a 4.2 percent annual increase. As SNAP enrollment rose during and after the recession, the gap between poverty and SNAP enrollment began to narrow. However, in 2011, the latest year for poverty data, per capita food stamp enrollment was still below the poverty rate.

Anyone remember the TV episode of “West Wing” where the White House staff of President Bartlet debate the political fallout of developing a new, better poverty definition?

Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released national data using a new formula based on recommendations of a National Academy of Sciences expert panel.

The bottom line: 16 percent of Americans (49.1 million) are poor according to the new measure compared to 15.2 percent according to the old measure, which will continue to be the official poverty measure for the time being. The new measure also documented a rise in poverty between 2009 and 2010, from 15.3 to 16 percent, as was also reported under the official definition.