Fox Business figures complained that an increased number of children receiving food assistance is evidence that they are part of an "entitlement culture" and attacked President Obama for allowing the food stamp program to expand in order to accommodate more children.
Fox Business' Varney & Co. devoted several segments to reports that one-quarter of children are now enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Fox Business anchor Nicole Petallides claimed that while children should receive meals at public school, "we are raising a group of entitlement nation children. I know as a parent, I go out of my way to teach our children how they have to earn each dollar." Fox News anchor John Stossell agreed, saying that expanding SNAP "encourage[s] the handouts" because "once you give away free stuff, people always want more."
In a later segment, Fox Business contributor Jedediah Bila claimed more children on SNAP is an indication that America "is becoming an entitlement culture" and warned that children receiving food assistance are "going to be entering a job market and in their mind are going to have this sense of entitlement coming along with them." Fox Business contributor Charles Payne agreed, saying people could "grow up and never even tap some of the potential that they have" because "if you make poverty too comfortable, people can't escape it."
Fox Business' attacks on children enrolled in SNAP come as childhood hunger reaches record levels as a result of the economic downturn. According to Feeding America, "16.7 million children lived in food insecure households in 2011." In 36 states, more than 20% of children lived in households without access to sufficient nutrition.
In addition, SNAP does not "make poverty too comfortable." The Food Research and Action Center pointed out that the average SNAP benefit often does not provide enough assistance to feed a family for an entire month:
While the average food stamp benefit is approximately $3 per day, depending on income and situation, some households qualify for the maximum benefit, while others get as little as $10 a month. After paying for housing, energy and health care expenses, many low-income households have little or no money remaining to spend on food without food stamp benefits. In addition, most food stamp households report that their food stamp benefits do not last the entire month and many are forced to turn to food pantries and soup kitchens.
SNAP also does not keep people in poverty. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted that in 2011, the program kept nearly 5 million people out of poverty, including more than 2 million children:
A study by the Department of Agriculture found that SNAP decreased both the prevalence and severity of poverty, and its antipoverty effect was even stronger for children:
We found an average decline of 4.4 percent in the prevalence of poverty due to SNAP benefits, while the average decline in the depth and severity of poverty was 10.3 and 13.2 percent, respectively. SNAP benefits had a particularly strong effect on child poverty, reducing its depth by an average of 15.5 percent and its severity by an average of 21.3 percent from 2000 to 2009.