Fox News continued its campaign to demonize programs that provide necessary food assistance to millions of Americans by attacking the AARP's effort to enroll eligible seniors in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, baselessly claiming the program was an effort to buy their vote and change “what America really is” and dismissing the fact that many eligible seniors find it difficult to enroll in the food assistance program they need.
A July 27 Tribune-Democrat article reported that the Pennsylvania chapter of the AARP “has launched an effort to use the organization's volunteers to encourage seniors to apply for food stamps.” According to the AARP, nearly 350,000 Pennsylvania seniors “do not always have enough money to buy food.”
On Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy asked why the AARP would want to enroll eligible seniors in the program and “encourage a welfare state.” Fox Business host Stuart Varney responded by dismissing the need to feed seniors -- even those in extreme poverty -- and claiming that the effort in Pennsylvania was about buying votes. He expanded:
VARNEY: Now the AARP, huge supporters of President Obama politically and financially. Big supporters of Obamacare. And now they're out there signing people up for food stamps. This is part of the buy the vote campaign. They're really shifting America, changing what America really is.
Outside of the 350,000 Pennsylvania seniors who lack food security, millions of seniors nationwide are food insecure and do not know how to access programs to assuage their food security concerns. According to Feeding America, a domestic hunger relief charity, “In 2011, 4.8 million Americans over the age of 60 were food insecure. This constitutes 8.4% of all seniors.” Additionally, only 35 percent of eligible seniors are enrolled in SNAP. The Food Research and Action Center noted that the low enrollment rate can be attributed to things like a lack of mobility and technology allowing for seniors to enroll in the program.
Fox has previously demonized government SNAP outreach efforts and the program itself. On the March 15 edition Fox & Friends, Stuart Varney attacked SNAP, calling it a “feel good” program that creates “an entitlement nation,” and added that SNAP outreach was an effort to secure votes for Obama during the 2012 presidential election. Varney has not limited his attacks to food security for the elderly. On July 9, Varney attacked the government for feeding children through initiatives like the free school lunch program, suggesting that food assistance programs that keep millions out of poverty were a sign of economic failure.