Contact: Celia Cole, 512-590-0659
Statement Attributable to Celia Cole, CEO of the Texas Food Bank Network
Regarding Fox News Special, “The Great Food Stamp Binge”
“If you watched Fox News this weekend, you may have seen an inflammatory & misleading hour of journalism examining the recent growth of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, aka food stamps).
“This exercise in muckraking likely led many viewers to form false notions about this important federal program. Among the worst of these was the suggestion that those who Fox selected for interviews represent the millions of vulnerable Americans who legitimately receive food aid.
“When I see someone parked illegally in a handicapped spot, I think badly of that person as an individual. But it doesn’t make me think that we should cut back on accommodations for people with disabilities, or think badly of all people with disabilities. Too often, when we see abuse in programs for the poor the opposite reaction occurs: we blast the program as a whole and assume that everyone on it is out to beat the system. And only because they are poor.
“The truth is that 1 in 7 Americans do receive SNAP because 1 in 7 Americans live at or below the poverty level, and therefore struggle to afford food and meet other basic needs. Recent studies from both Harvard University and Mathematica conclude that our weak economy is responsible for the vast majority of recent program growth.
“What do we actually know about these families? We know that 76% include children, elderly or someone who is disabled. We know that nearly 50% survive on incomes that are less than half of the federal poverty line. We know that 96% of recipients are U.S. citizens (the rest are here legally), and that participation rates are comparable in urban and rural America. SNAP is also one of the most efficient and effective government programs with program error and fraud at historic lows. Less than 4% of benefits are issued in error.
“What outlets like Fox fail to mention is that SNAP not only satisfies our moral duty to feed the hungry among us, it also improves lives and strengthens our economy. Study after study associates SNAP with higher food security, better dietary health and even self-sufficiency later in life.
“Congressional economists predict that SNAP participation will fall by 12 million people, and annual program costs will fall by nearly $10 Billion over the next decade as our economy recovers – just as it is designed to do. Our question to Fox News is, why bash a program that does so much good for so many?”