Bishop Harry R. Jackson Calls Food Stamps a Political Payoff to Blacks and Latinos

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In an early strategic preparation for the struggle to avoid the fiscal cliff, the president and several Democratic luminaries decided to redefine as essential several entitlement programs. In an old fashioned way of manipulating the public, they began to redefine commonly held beliefs. In the interest of time, we will share only one example.

Last December, Newark Mayor Cory Booker spent a much-publicized week trying to live the life of a food stamp recipient. And after a nationwide media tour, we learned many valuable lessons. First of all, we learned that giving up your daily Starbucks causes headaches, and leftovers are not as pleasant as five-star dining. Publicity stunts aside, food stamp usage is indeed at an all-time high. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported recently that nearly 48 million people were enrolled in the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). This is both the largest number of people and the largest percentage of the population ever.

In some ways this is unsurprising: we are in the midst of a weak economy. The program was intended to be supplemental; not a replacement for a family's entire food budget. It follows that an increasing number of families might have difficulty putting food on the table. A closer look at the situation, however, raises some concerns.

The first is that people are not necessarily "turning to" food stamps, as much as they are being recruited to receive them. Since 2008, the USDA has produced Spanish language radio advertisements about SNAP, with the expressed goal of increasing the number of Spanish speaking individuals receiving food stamps. The spots were created in the style of popular Spanish language soap operas. In each episode, characters talk to one another about the benefits of food stamps and how important they are to good health. Often they encourage others to overcome their "pride" of self-sufficiency and enroll in the program.

The USDA believes that increasing SNAP enrollment among the Latino population will improve their overall health and wellbeing. The USDA's website, explaining why it wants to increase enrollment while the federal government is running a trillion dollar deficit, says the campaign exists so that everyone "can feed their families healthy, nutritious food." Apparently, they believe there are many "unreached" Latinos who cannot do this without government aid.

This is not new territory for the food stamp program. During the early days of President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society programs, thousands of federal "recruiters" were deployed to the black community to persuade African Americans to overcome their pride and accept food stamps. The USDA magazine reported in 1972 that, "With careful explanations . . . coupled with intensive outreach efforts, resistance from the 'too prouds' is bending."

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SOURCE: Charisma News
Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr. is the senior pastor of Hope Christian Church, a 3,000-member congregation in the Washington, D.C., area. He is also founder and president of High Impact Leadership Coalition, which exists to protect the moral compass of America and be an agent of healing to our nation by educating and empowering churches, community and political leaders.
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