U.S. Brags to U.N.: We Have 46.5 Million on Food Stamps

Terence P. Jeffrey | February 10, 2015 | 11:42am EST
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(AP Photo)

( - In response to a recommendation made by the Communist government of Cuba, the U.S. State Department is boasting in a report submitted to the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights on Friday that there were "46.5 million" people on food stamps in the United States last year and that a quarter of all Americans received government “food assistance.”

In response to the same Cuban recommendation, the State Department also told the U.N. High Commissioner that 9 million people have signed up for Medicaid since October 2013—as part of the impact of Obamacare.

“In FY2014, we invested more than $103 billion in domestic food assistance programs, serving one in four Americans during the year,” the State Department told the U.N. High Commissioner.

“[N]early nine million individuals have enrolled in coverage in state-run Medicaid programs since October 2013,” said the State Department.

The State Department report was presented as part of the “Universal Periodic Review” that the U.N. Human Rights Council is conducting this year on human rights condition in the United States.

In the course of these reviews, U.N. member states can make recommendations to the nations being reviewed.

When the HRC conducted its last review of the United States in November 2010, Cuba recommended to the United States: “Ensure the realization of the rights to food and health of all who live in its territory.”

That recommendation was listed as No. 195 in the UN HRC "working group" report on the United States that was published on Jan. 4, 2011.

This Cuban recommendation was immediately followed by one from Brazil. Recommendation 196 advised the United States to: “Expand its social protection coverage.”

On March 8, 2011, the U.S. submitted its response the HRC working group report, which included U.S. “views on the conclusions and/or recommendations” in that report. Here, the U.S. government said that recommendations 195 and 196 were among those that “enjoy our support.”

In stating its support for the Cuban recommendation, No. 195, the U.S. noted “that we are a non-party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and accordingly we understand the references to rights to food and health as references to rights in other human rights instruments that we have accepted. We also understand that these rights are to be realized progressively.”

In stating its support for the Brazilian recommendation, the U.S. government said it did so “because the U.S. Government seeks to improve the safety net that our country provides for the less fortunate.”

In its report submitted last week, as part of the new U.N. Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review that the United States is undergoing this year, the State Department responded to the recommendations made by Cuba, Brazil (and those of other nations).

"The UPR working group is currently in its second cycle, and so states are expected to provide information on progress made on the recommendations accepted during their first review four years earlier,” the State Department explained in a fact sheet on the process.

“This report responds to all recommendations that we supported in whole or in part, even where such recommendations fall outside the scope of the United States’ human rights obligations and commitments,” said the State Department report itself.

This report included a joint answer to recommendations 195 and 196, which it ran under the heading “Access to food and healthcare.”

“The United States has undertaken many initiatives domestically to promote food security and expand health care,” said State Department in this response. “The Affordable Care Act has increased health coverage options and quality through new consumer protections, the creation of the Health Insurance Marketplaces—a new means for uninsured people to enroll in health coverage—and additional support for state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs.

“We are committed to expanding access to health care to all our citizens and as such, have made efforts to strengthen and protect our social and health care programs: Medicare for the elderly and disabled, and Medicaid for low-income individuals and families,” said the State Department.

“Under the ACA, Medicare beneficiaries have saved billions of dollars on prescription drugs and have seen no increase in rates since 2013,” said the State Department. “Additionally, Medicare beneficiaries no longer have to pay cost-sharing for preventive services, and nearly nine million individuals have enrolled in coverage in state-run Medicaid programs since October 2013.

“In FY2014, we invested more than $103 billion in domestic food assistance programs, serving one in four Americans during the year,” said the State Department. “Beneficiaries included about 46.5 million low-income individuals each month under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; about 8.3 million per month under the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children; over 30.3 million children each school day; and over 2.5 million elderly adults each year through the Older Americans Act nutrition programs.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 46.536 million people participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—AKA food stamps—in the average month of fiscal 2014.

That was up from 28.223 million in fiscal 2008—an increase of 18.3 million, or about 65 percent, in six years.

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