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From: SenateRepublican_BudgetPressOffice@budget.senate.

gov Subject: ICYMI: GOP Senator Demands USDA Stop Pressuring People To Enroll In Food Stamp Program Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2012 16:24:24 +0000

In a letter to Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions explaining the agencys partnership with Mexico, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently asserted that the USDA is not bent on pressuring people into government assistance On Tuesday Sessions sent a letter back to Vilsack arguing that a number of USDAs campaigns appear to conflict with the secretarys claim Sessions added that the agency has even made the case that people should get on food stamps to improve their communitys economic situation Nearly 47 million people are currently participating in SNAP, and spending on the program has increased by more than 100 percent in the last four years.
October 10, 2012

GOP senator demands USDA stop pressuring people to enroll in food stamp program
By Caroline May

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has engaged in extensive promotional efforts to help enroll people in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, in recent years, but administration officials are strongly denying that their efforts are anything but educational. From radio and television ads to pamphlets and department guides offering tips to SNAP offices about how to convince people to accept food stamps, USDA has devoted extensive time and money toward getting out the word on SNAP including working with the Mexican government to promote food stamps for immigrants. The USDA is focused on outreach with the goal of increasing participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, according to the agencys website. But in a letter to Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions explaining the agencys partnership with Mexico, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently asserted that the USDA is not bent on pressuring people into government assistance. We do not pressure any eligible person to accept benefits, nor is our goal to simply increase the number of program participants, but we are determined to help people in need make informed decisions about whether or not to seek assistance for which they may be eligible, Vilsack wrote to Sessions. On Tuesday Sessions sent a letter back to Vilsack arguing that a number of USDAs campaigns appear to conflict with the secretarys claim. [T]he content of USDAs advertisements and promotion campaigns demonstrate otherwise. For instance, there is the Spanish radio novella taken down only week ago after criticism whose

entire premise is pressuring an individual to accept food stamps benefits despite her protestations. Sessions pointed out in his letter, which was obtained by The Daily Caller. Your department provides a document on how to overcome the word No and awarded a recruitment worker for overcoming peoples mountain pride. Sessions added that the agency has even made the case that people should get on food stamps to improve their communitys economic situation. There is even a promotional guide suggesting those targeted for enrollment harm their communities by not accepting benefits: 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. These are only a few of many examples, Sessions wrote. Given Vilsacks assurance that the USDA does not pressure people, Sessions demanded Tuesday in his letter that Vilsack eliminate all materials, training and recruitment efforts that contradict your above statement. In his Tuesday letter, Sessions also requested information pertaining to USDAs enrollment goals, as well as further details on USDAs meetings with the Mexican government and the cost of non-citizen participation in SNAP. Nearly 47 million people are currently participating in SNAP, and spending on the program has increased by more than 100 percent in the last four years. The USDA did not respond to TheDCs request for comment.

[NOTE: Please see below for examples of USDAs aggressive promotional and outreach efforts.] A Spanish-language ad in which an individual is pressured into accepting food stamps even though she says her family is financially self-sufficient Assertion that communities are losing out when individuals choose not to participate in the food stamp program Everyone wins when eligible people take advantage of benefits to which they are entitled Recruitment workers given tips on how to overcome the word No 2011 Hunger Champions award for counteracting mountain pride