Stereotype Debunked: More Whites Receive Food Stamps Than Blacks

March 3, 2015  |  

From former President Ronald Reagan to Gene Alday, a current Republican member of the Mississippi state legislature, many politicians, typically from the GOP, like to stereotype Black people as food stamp recipients. Alday had to recently apologize for telling a reporter that all the African Americans in Walls, Mississippi, are unemployed and on food stamps.

“I come from a town where all the Blacks are getting food stamps and what I call ‘welfare crazy checks,'” Alday told The Clarion-Ledger. “They don’t work.”

But it’s quite the contrary. Looking at national numbers, most of the people who receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are actually white. U.S. Department of Agriculture data from 2013, which administers welfare, 40.2 percent of SNAP recipients are white, 25.7 percent are Black, 10.3 percent are Hispanic, 2.1 percent are Asian and 1.2 percent are Native American.

However, in the two congressional districts that overlap Alday’s state legislature district, African Americans really do receive more food stamps than whites.

In 2013, benefits were received by 23 million households and 47 million individuals got benefits on an average month. But enrollment did drop a bit to 22 million households and 46 million individuals in 2014. Of those households, three-quarters of those households included a child, an elderly person, or someone with a disability. “The average monthly benefit per household was $274 in 2013 and $256 last year,” reports The Huffington Post.

More important than all of that, SNAP benefits kept 4.8 million Americans of different races out of poverty, including 2.1 million children. “By providing low-income families with resources to buy food, SNAP not only reduces ‘food insecurity’ (difficulty affording adequate food) but also frees up room in their very tight budgets to cover other necessities, such as rent and clothing,” the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities wrote back in October.

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