USA partnering with Mexico to boost food stamp participation
by CAROLINE MAY
July 19, 2012
The Mexican government has been working with the United States Department of Agriculture to increase participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps.
USDA has an agreement with Mexico to promote American food assistance programs, including food stamps, among Mexican Americans, Mexican nationals and migrant communities in America.
"USDA and the government of Mexico have entered into a partnership to help educate eligible Mexican nationals living in the United States about available nutrition assistance," the USDA explains in a brief paragraph on their "Reaching Low-Income Hispanics With Nutrition Assistance" web page. "Mexico will help disseminate this information through its embassy and network of approximately 50 consular offices."
The partnership - which was signed by former USDA Secretary Ann M. Veneman and Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Ernesto Derbez Bautista in 2004 - sees to it that the Mexican Embassy and Mexican consulates in America provide USDA nutrition assistance program information to Mexican Americans, Mexican nationals working in America and migrant communities in America. The information is specifically focused on eligibility criteria and access.
The goal, for USDA, is to get rid of what they see as enrollment obstacles and increase access among potentially eligible populations by working with arms of the Mexican government in America. Benefits are not guaranteed or provided under the program - the purpose is outreach and education.
Some of the materials the USDA encourages the Mexican government to use to educate and promote the benefit programs are available free online for order and download. A partial list of materials include English and Spanish brochures titled "Five Easy Steps To Snap Benefits," "How To Get Food Help - A Consumer's Guide to FNCS Programs," "Ending Hunger Improving Nutrition Combating Obesity," and posters with slogans like "Food Stamps Make America Stronger."
When asked for details and to elaborate on the program, USDA stressed it was established in 2004 and not meant for illegal immigrants.
"The partnership with the Mexican embassy was established in 2004," a USDA spokesman wrote The Daily Caller in an email. "USDA does not perform outreach to immigrants that are undocumented, and therefore not eligible for SNAP." (RELATED: USDA buckles, removes Spanish food stamp soap operas from website)
Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, who has been pushing for reform of SNAP, sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on Wednesday demanding more answers and documents pertaining to the partnership.
The agency has yet to supply documents and information requested by Sessions' Senate Budget Committee staff, including the Memorandums of Understanding between USDA and the Mexican government regarding the food assistance partnership.