What this means in real terms is that 45 million Americans now receive food stamps so they won't starve to death. And it means that the other 55 million get Welfare and various other types of government and medical assistance. The important thing is to realize this is not State assistance but only assistance from the Federal Government.
Since there are approximately 350 million Americans right now in the U.S. you can see that this is almost 1/3 of the population that gets some sort of assistance from the Federal Government.
Because of Globalization and Global Climate Change and the present Growing drought I would say it is likely that this number will increase before it decreases. The 100 million receiving some kind of Government assistance is a quote from Jack Cafferty from the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer Thursday.