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Corruption Chronicles

Govt. Funds Campaign To Reduce Food Stamp Stigma

Although the number of food stamp recipients has increased dramatically in the last few years, federal dollars are being spent on a campaign to increase participation by reducing the “stigma” associated with the government anti-poverty program.

The effort to boost the food stamp rolls was announced this month in California, where more than 3 million residents benefit from the federal program each month. Evidently, state and federal officials believe the number is way too low for the virtually bankrupt state with a population of about 37 million.

California social services officials got to work conducting discussions, research and testing among current and potential beneficiaries to devise a plan that could expand the number of food stamp recipients. In 2008 Congress changed the decades-old name (food stamps) to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which was unpopular in focus groups because it suggests a welfare program rather than a health and nutrition program, according to an official quoted in a newspaper report.

As of this week, the state’s new and stigma-free food stamp project is officially a “nutritional benefit” called CalFresh. The new name and logo (“Better Food For Better Living”) will encourage more people to apply, officials hope. Announcing the change over the weekend, California First Lady Maria Shriver said that the “rebranding campaign” will help erase the “unfortunate stigma” associated with food stamps.

Thousands of federal tax dollars paid for the printing and distribution of colorful brochures sporting the new name and logo, which are supposed to represent the diverse produce available in California. The overhaul will also be promoted in outreach programs funded by the federal government.

The publicly-funded campaign comes on the heels of a 50% increase in the number of people who get food stamps nationwide. More than 40 million low-income residents receive the government perk each month and the program has grown steadily for three years, according to government data quoted in the media.


 


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