by Matt Lacy –
The USDA is continuing its program of encouraging greater numbers of Americans to sign up for food stamps with a new program aimed at Spanish speaking people.
During the Republican presidential primary season, Newt Gingrich was criticized for referring to Obama as the “food stamp president.”
While the USDA has been promoting food stamp participation since 2004 under President Bush, under Obama the number of individuals on food stamps has reached an all-time high. In the 1970’s one in 50 Americans were on the program, now the number is one in seven. Spending on the program has increased by 100 percent under President Obama.
In its latest program, the government is producing novelas touting the advantages of being on food stamps and even advising individuals on how to qualify for the program.
The Daily Caller reported that the government has recently been using radio novelas to encourage Spanish speakers to apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps.
The novela consists of a 10 part series, called “PARQUE ALEGRIA,” or “HAPPINESS PARK,” features characters attempting to convince others to get food stamps, explaining how it makes you healthier to be on the SNAP program than if you were to purchase your own food.
Some have accused the program as an attempt to get illegal aliens to apply for the program, however officials deny that is the case stating that while non-citizens may be eligible in certain circumstances, illegal aliens are not.
A 2011 booklet titled, “Guidance on Non-Citizen Eligibility” noted that food stamp participation is currently at historic lows for eligible non-citizens. In 2008, the participation rate for non-citizens was 51% and the rate for citizen children living with non-citizen adults was 55% as compared to the national participation rate of 67% among all eligible individuals.”
However, Robert Rector with The Heritage Foundation points out that while illegals may not qualify for food stamps, the legal children of illegals are eligible for the benefits.
The radio spots are not the only program by the USDA to encourage greater participation in the program. The USDA web site has posted a series of suggestions for local offices to implement including hosting food stamp parties.
“Throw a Great Party. Host social events where people mix and mingle,” the pamphlet in one of the guides says. “Make it fun by having activities, games, food, and entertainment, and provide information about SNAP. Putting SNAP information in a game format like BINGO, crossword puzzles, or even a ‘true/false’ quiz is fun and helps get your message across in a memorable way.”
Congress is currently debating the farm bill, which contains funding for the program. Many Republicans are attempting to scale back funding of the food stamp program citing wide spread abuse.
There have been examples of food stamps being used to buy candy and expensive products such as prime rib and lobster. In New Hampshire a convenience store clerk was fired after she refused to allow a customer to use his EBT (food stamp) card to purchase cigarettes.