Recent numbers from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) show the number of food stamp recipients continuing its upward climb.
Most concerning is the next generation’s dependency on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): 19.9 million children, 26.9 percent of all Americans under 18, received aid from SNAP in 2011. They made up 45 percent of SNAP participants.
The latest data released Friday shows SNAP had 47.5 million participants in October. That means 1 in 6.5 Americans are now on food stamps, compared to 1 in 50 Americans in 1970. In just the past decade, the number of Americans on SNAP rose by 29.5 million.
This increase in SNAP recipients is the result of campaign efforts by welfare advocates to get more low-income families to join the program. In outreach efforts across the nation, they present SNAP not as a welfare program, but as an entitlement program, and encourage states to sign-up anyone who qualifies for aid. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who speaks up against the expansion of SNAP, said in rural North Carolina the USDA even gave an award to one women for helping others overcome “mountain pride.”
“What [USDA] said was this lady should be given an award because when people in the mountains–who are independent and believe they can take care of themselves, thank you, without the federal government—she overcame that,” Sessions told Congress in December.
But as Marvin Olasky notes, getting more people into the system creates a long-term dependency on the government, which leads to more poverty. And with some people abusing the system, it becomes more difficult to provide aid to those who truly need it. (See “Food stamps surge,” by Marvin Olasky, WORLD, Nov. 7)
The National Poverty Center said SNAP helped reduce by half the number of “extremely poor” children, but a closer look at the study showed it counted the program’s benefit as income.
And these benefits came at a cost of $80.4 billion in 2012.
With the country dealing with a $1.3 trillion deficit, Sessions believes that expanding food aid is not the solution: “We need to work, to help people with pride, help people to assume their own independence, to be successful, take care of their own families and move them from dependence to independence.”