Five Facts About Crony Profits from Food Stamps

Aaron Dykes & Melissa Melton
Activist Post

More than one in seven people.

That’s how many people are on food stamps in America these days. More than one in seven people.

In fact, the number of recipients of federal food assistance rose a whopping 171% between 2000 and 2011 alone, to an all-time record of more than 47 million Americans across the country now on the food stamp dole.

That means more U.S. citizens are receiving food stamp benefits now than in the entire history of the food stamp program ever.

One-sixth of the country is now receiving food stamps and the number just continues to climb.

Most argue this increase simply has to do with the terrible recession and resultant unemployment; but the food stamp program, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, is yet another crony capitalist scheme (surprise, surprise).

Here are a few more crony facts most people might not realize about our nation’s food stamp program.

1. Congress Changed the Rules to Get Even More People on the Dole

Congress relaxed the food stamp program standards in 2008 regarding who could receive benefits, then gave the program a temporary boost in 2009 that allowed people to receive even more money every month. (source)

2.The Biggest Food Stamp Lobbyists are Mega Banks and Mega Corporations

Some 76 billion in food stamps were handed out just last year alone. But the biggest recipients aren’t the people on food stamps.

In fact, the biggest lobbyists for the food stamp program aren’t poor people or organizations who represent low-income families, but big Wall Street banks and mega corporations. Two quick examples: J.P. Morgan Chase raked in $209 million for just two contracts agreeing to administer EBT card benefits in Florida and New York; and Walmart made half a billion in food stamps just off Oklahoma residents and in just a two-year period. (source)

3. Mega Food Companies Have Fought Against Any Healthy Improvements to the Program

While studies have found that socioeconomic factors are linked to food-related health issues like obesity and diabetes, attempts to enforce healthier standards in America’s food stamp program have been fought every step of the way by the powerful lobbyists behind those mega corporations.

So even though advertisements talk about SNAP like it’s a way to “eat healthy” and all that propaganda, companies that make products like junk food and soda spend big bucks to make sure the food stamp dollars keep on rolling in.

Here are a few highlights on that found in a report via Eat Drink Politics:

  • Powerful food industry lobbying groups teamed up to oppose health-oriented improvements to SNAP. The food industry also joined forces with anti-hunger groups to lobby against SNAP improvements.
  • Companies such as Cargill, PepsiCo, and Kroger lobbied Congress on SNAP, while also donating money to America’s top anti-hunger organizations.
  • At least nine states have proposed bills to make health-oriented improvements to SNAP, but none have passed, in part due to opposition from the food industry.
  • Coca-Cola, the Corn Refiners of America, and Kraft Foods all lobbied against a Florida bill that aimed to disallow SNAP purchases for soda and junk food.

4. Most of These Mega Food Retailers Making Bank off Food Stamps Don’t Even Pay Their Employees Enough to Get by Without Food Stamps

Food stamps are a sick, sad cycle.

Did you know that Walmart ends up with 18% of all food stamps spent in the U.S., or nearly 14 billion dollars?

As Marketplace’s Krissy Clark wrote, “In order to be authorized by the government to participate in SNAP, a store must meet certain standards and fulfill certain responsibilities,” but, “Nowhere does the government require that for a store to be part of the food stamp program, it must pay its workers enough that they don’t need to use food stamps themselves.”

So…let’s say hypothetically you are a giant corporation that takes in a huge profit off the food stamp program (*cough* Walmart *cough*) and you pay your employees so poorly that many of them are eligible for food stamps. You are basically giving yourself a rather fat kickback that wouldn’t exactly motivate you to ever raise wages because you’d lose the money paid out in higher wages and the lost food stamp revenue from paying those people enough so that they can’t get food stamps any longer.

(On another aside, the food stamp poverty cycle continues with rules limiting SNAP recipients’ ability to save money toward their own independence. Anyone with savings of $2,000 or more will automatically get all of their food stamp benefits cut…but if the benefits are cut, the person would have to spend the savings on food and therefore cannot save, you see? So saving money to try and get off food stamps and become independent when you are low-income? Not really possible unless you suddenly inherent a fat estate or win the lottery or something.)

5. SNAP Is Being Openly Advertised to People Like It’s a Party, Including Door-to-Door Food Stamp “Outreach” to Get More Americans Signed Up

As a result of all these powerful lobbyists and the vested interests they represent who make billions off the program, food stamp benefits are now being ENTHUSIASTICALLY PROMOTED in this country. They are advertised in everything from mailers to spots on the radio, and in some low-income neighborhoods, there are workers who even go door-to-door to try and get more people signed up. And food stamp applications are so easy these days, in some states you can fill one out online. There are even free food stamp calculator apps available for people’s smart phones (who could make that one up?)

For just one example, the description of the “SNAP Education and Outreach” program in Texas reads, “SNAP Education and Outreach provides food benefits information, assistance with SNAP applications and referrals to other benefit programs and community services. Information about SNAP is shared through community and media events and door-to-door outreach.” (source)

They even have community and media events, too. As I’ve reported before, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s SNAP community outreach toolkit includes “a series of flyers that suggest ‘fresh ideas’ to garner local offices more aid recipients, such as throwing food stamp ‘parties,’ complete with entertainment and food stamp info-themed BINGO games.”

Wow. American serfdom sure sounds fun, doesn’t it? Why aren’t we all on the dole?

But ultimately, as more people lose their jobs or are forced to take low-paying jobs and more of those people get on food stamps, this system (like so many others in this country) is not even remotely sustainable.

If things continue this way, we are definitely set to see a Cloward-Piven style collapse in America. And even our congressmen have admitted that’s what they believe our current president is trying to do.

For more on that, read the description on Webster Tarpley’s unauthorized Obama biography published in 2008 and see if any of it (actually, all of it) sounds familiar in regard to what’s happening in America’s headlines today.

As YouTuber Warriorwoman noted in the comments on our video above, “It’s to further collapse our economy. I mean if the tax payers are unemployed and having to get help then there isn’t that many people paying in anymore. So how long can the US keep this up?”


Melissa Melton and Aaron Dykes are investigative reporters who run and Subscribe to their YouTube channel or Follow them on Twitter.

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