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Government under fire for 'novela' ad campaign promoting food stamp enrollment
Published July 13, 2012

Report: 1-in-7 Americans now qualify for food stamps

Krauthammer: Food stamps a great success for...
The Department of Agriculture is coming under fire for its "aggressive" ad campaign, including a 10-part series of Spanish-language "novelas," to convince people to go on food stamps -- at a time when one in seven are already enrolled.

The food stamp rolls have swelled since the recession, growing roughly 40 percent since 2009. As of April, more than 46 million people were in the program, which costs $80 billion a year. Yet the USDA is engaged in an ongoing ad campaign to convince those not on food stamps -- but still technically eligible -- to let down their pride and sign up.

Part of that campaign is the Spanish-language radio "novelas." The translated scripts, provided to by the USDA, compose a 10-part miniseries called "Hope Park." In it, the characters are shown persistently trying to convince "Diana" to go on food stamps -- known these days as SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program -- even though her husband works and she doesn't think she needs it.

"I don't need help from anyone," Diana says in Episode 4. "My husband makes enough to take care of us."

But her friends are persistent, and by Episode 10 Diana is enrolled and singing the program's praises.

The radio spots were produced in 2008 and remain available for use, according to the USDA.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, slammed the campaign as a push to enroll individuals who don't feel they need it.

"It has become increasingly clear that, in recent years, the mission of the food stamp program has been converted from targeted assistance for those in need into an aggressive drive to expand enrollment regardless of need," he said in a statement. "Food stamp spending has quadrupled since 2001, yet USDA complains that too many eligible people continue to resist enrollment. ... Read as a whole, USDA's activities suggest that the program administrators take personal offense when people who technically qualify for their largesse decline to accept -- and see it as an obstacle to overcome."

Sessions noted the radio ads are part of an effort to enroll immigrants and non-citizens, who are eligible provided they meet certain requirements.

The USDA notes that illegal immigrants cannot apply, however.

"Non-citizens who are unlawfully present, are not, nor have they ever been, eligible to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits," the USDA said in a statement. "States must verify the immigration status of individuals who apply for benefits. Individuals applying for SNAP are required to provide documentation of their immigration status as a condition of eligibility."

As for the ad campaign itself, a USDA Food and Nutrition Service spokesman said it was targeted toward "communities most at risk for hunger."

"Congress allocates funds to USDA with the mandate to conduct public education about the benefits of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and how to apply to help reduce hunger in America," the spokesman said. "Partner organizations use the public service announcements and other tools to connect eligible households with the information they need to make an informed decision about SNAP participation."

The radio ads stress that the assistance can be used to buy healthy food and improve diets. They even direct listeners to the online "SNAP recipe finder" for recipe ideas.

The radio ads are among a series of USDA-sponsored ads produced between 2008 and 2012 to promote food stamp enrollment. Several other public service announcements, in English and in Spanish, are still on the department's website, though the "novelas" appear to have been taken down -- they were on the site as recently as Thursday.

Tad DeHaven, budget analyst for the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute, said it's clear the government is trying to "get as many people using the program as possible."

"It's a clear attempt to foster greater government dependency," he said.

As for the pitch to non-citizens, he said it sends an unfortunate message: "Welcome to the United States, we'll take care of you."

The criticism over the ad campaigns comes amid debate on Capitol Hill over the proposed five-year farm bill funding food stamps. Proposals in the House and Senate seek to cut funding from the program.

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umm this was a comment I had made a few weeks ago.maybe fox can get somethings right LOL

The USDA notes that illegal immigrants cannot apply, however.

"Non-citizens who are unlawfully present, are not, nor have they ever been, eligible to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits," the USDA said in a statement. "States must verify the immigration status of individuals who apply for benefits. Individuals applying for SNAP are required to provide documentation of their immigration status as a condition of eligibility.


Then wonder why our tax dollars are being spent on a spanish ad to encourage latinos to apply for food stamps..More wasted money.
Once again Gyp you don't understand how easy it is to get false papers to qualify. $150.00 and it happens every day. Your tax dollars going down the tubes.


Because there are Latinos/Spanish that are legal here in America,and need help in that area,..simple! why not engage an ad for them. that is not fact that they are falsifying papers.


You will turn a blind eye and a deft ear to the actual crooked dealings for fear it is a Democratic program, you would rather approve or ignore such waste and fraud than admit it needs to be fixed.


no,let me put it this way,you will create something to throw doubt and fear for we the people,until I have actual proof of this occurring ,I will not believe your theory. My sister in law works in this type of office, she has for 15 years, there has never been a incident in this county nor have I heard any from other states depicting what you say~Also the biggest fraud is the Republican party, the fear mongers.


Of course you deny, it is much easier than admit there is a problem, and who works where doesn't mean squat to me , I have posted an article about the ease in obtaining fake documents, you argued then and still are. Face it for a few bucks any illegal can get fake documents and draw Fed. and state programs.

How many more articles do you want google has over a million on line.
One hour and $260 can get you phony green card, soc. security and license

Last Updated: 3:34 PM, February 26, 2012

Posted: 12:10 AM, February 26, 2012

Share on emailShare on facebook More Sharing ServicesMore Print EXCLUSIVE
It’s a passport to trouble — and it can be bought for just $260 on the streets of Jackson Heights, Queens.

In just one hour, The Post was able to buy a phony green card, Social Security card and New York state driver’s license from a stranger on a corner — all of which could serve as a gateway to obtain legitimate IDs.

The cards are frighteningly real — convincing enough to fool creditors, potential employers and security at buildings and even the airport.

Experts said the biggest fear is that these IDs are being bought by people who slipped past border crossings.

Angel Chevrestt
FAKE-ID ‘EPICENTER’: “Charlie,” “Angel” and a Post reporter await the delivery of fake IDs on a street corner in Jackson Heights, where officials believe at least 10 identity-card forgery mills operate.

THREE OF A KIND: The Post’s Candice Giove bought a driver’s license, Social Security card and green card, all for $260.
“You get that legitimate ID, and this one goes away,” said John Cutter, retired NYPD deputy chief of the Intelligence Division, as he tossed the fake Social Security card in the air.


“The next thing you know, you’re legit even though you never came across the border legally, nobody really knows who you are, you’ve never paid taxes, but now you’re a legitimate citizen, and now you start your history.

“That’s the scary part, because, let’s face it, people working in government agencies aren’t always cognizant of the security risks of these things,” said Cutter, who runs a private security company.

On Roosevelt Avenue, known to investigators as the “East Coast epicenter” for fake IDs, officials believe 10 mills operate between 103rd and 76th streets.

In 2007, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown netted one of the gang-related groups. It was raking in more than $1 million annually selling the bogus cards on the streets. Investigators found that while most of the ring’s buyers were illegal immigrants, a handful were criminals involved in identity theft.

Five years later, the illegal industry continues to thrive and sellers on the street avoid the watchful eyes of patrol cops and surveillance cameras.

Midday on Roosevelt and Forley Street, I asked a man in a leather jacket leaning against a shuttered electronics-store gate if he knew where I could get an ID.

He was the first person I approached, and I was already in business.

“You need an ID? What kind?” he asked.

“A green card.”

“Follow me.”

It was that easy.

The negotiation happened off the main strip, near private homes.

He offered a package deal: green and Social Security cards for $160. A driver’s license from New York, New Jersey or Connecticut would run another $130, he said. I haggled him down to $260 from $290.

He said to meet in an hour, half-way down a different residential street.

“It’s good for you. It’s good for me,” he said. “Too many cops.”

Next, he took me to a discount cellphone shop that printed ID pictures. I paid $6 for two passport-size rectangles.

The stranger handed me a tiny manila envelope and told me to write out my name, birth date, country of origin and address.

“Use a fake one if you want.”

I decided to be Canadian.

He programmed my digits into his phone and called me on the spot. “Candice,” he said.

“Well, what’s your name?”

“Charlie,” he said. “Could you leave me 20 bucks?”

Charlie picked out a cafe for me to pass the time in until he returned, and when I told him I was headed to a coffee joint on 88th Street instead, he forbade it because of the police.

“Do not go there,” he said emphatically. “Too hot. Go to 82nd Street.”

I did not look back at Charlie, fearing he’d think I was a cop. He was about to pass my manila envelope to a runner who would deliver it to a hidden ID forgery mill.

An hour later, Charlie called and ordered me to rendezvous on Forley instead, again with a warning about cops.

He arrived with a bearded friend he called “Angel.” They did not have my ID.

We chatted while we waited. The men, both from Mexico, said they were roommates who split a nearby studio.

Suddenly, a man in a blue jacket briskly walking across the street tucked a tiny manila envelope under a blue minivan’s windshield wiper. Charlie crossed and grabbed it.

“It’s here,” he said.

The two walked me to a set of secluded steps.

“This is your resident card,” Charlie said. “Look at it.”

He slipped it into my open purse. It was an older version of the green card. A tiny hologram of my face was on the back.

He handed me the other cards. I palmed the money and shook his hand.

“Listen, you have friends who need ID, you send them to me. You got my number,” he said.

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I could care less what means squat,or not with you.why do your post something that can't be proven, and is the least thing troubling this country? your articles do not prove anything,especially from the source you get them~ so I consider this conversation a stalemate~ have a wonderful evening :) this article you posted sounds like a tv movie! or a trumped up scam!


Of course it would to you, let your fingers do the walking and google it yourself, I am done with this.

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