Press Releases

“I have concluded these ads are only the symptom of a wider culture in USDA, apparent throughout their enrollment literature, which seeks maximum registration as the ultimate goal, regardless of need… The evidence is mounting that USDA [is] pushing, even intimidating, people who do not wish to receive assistance, including non-citizen immigrants, into enrolling for benefits they claim they do not need or wish to receive.” 

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, issued the following statement today in response to news that the USDA would be ceasing production of certain controversial food stamp radio ads, including soap operas:

“Today’s announcement represents an admission of a broken culture at USDA. While it is a good step for the USDA to cease production of future ads of this nature, they must also pull these ads from the air. But that is only the beginning of what is necessary. It is time for a top-down review of USDA to examine how the food stamp program is administered. The overriding goal that demands constant and intense focus is to move people from temporary assistance to permanent employment. We must review the tactics USDA has employed that have resulted in a unprecedented quadrupling of the food stamp budget and an apparent lack of respect for the individuals they are seeking to enroll.

I have concluded these ads are only a symptom of a wider culture in USDA, apparent throughout their enrollment literature, which seeks maximum registration as the ultimate goal, regardless of need. Will the USDA cease handing out awards for recruitment workers that overcome people’s ‘mountain pride’? Will they stop training workers on ‘overcome[ing] the word no’? Will they continue to view ‘a sense that benefits are not needed’ as a stubborn barrier to remove, an impediment to their view that ‘each $5 dollars in new SNAP benefits generates almost twice that amount in economic activity for the community… Everyone wins when eligible people take advantage of benefits to which they are entitled’?

Welfare support should be directed to those in need. It should be temporary whenever possible, and the ultimate goal should be help people realize financial independence.

The evidence is mounting that USDA views its portion of the nation’s welfare budget with a very different goal: pushing, even intimidating, people who do not wish to receive assistance, including non-citizen immigrants, into enrolling for benefits they claim they do not need or wish to receive.

The USDA will have many pressing questions to answer in the coming days. Reform is long overdue.”

BACKGROUND:

  • To view one of the Spanish-language soap operas in which one individual laments that another says, “I don’t need anyone’s help,” please click here.
  • To view a USDA document on how to “overcome the word ‘no,’” please click here.
  • To view a USDA document that suggests benefits should be accepted even if not needed, because of the economic benefits to the community (“everyone wins”), please click here.