More states are beginning to require proof of working part-time as a requisite for food assistance in the coming year and Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has largely been quiet on the issue -- he still hasn’t given an official stance on social welfare on his campaign website. Trump did, however, address the issue of SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) during a campaign event in November.
Trump raised the issue of food stamps at a rally in Worcester, Massachusetts, but much of his message was lost after an irate protester was thrown out and Trump mocked the man for his weight.
“We have 43 million and now it’s actually probably gonna be closer to 50," Trump said before the interruption, according to ABC News. "50 million people on food stamps.”
Trump's statistics, however, were misleading. As of September 2015, there were 45,415,445 people using SNAP, according to the Food Research and Action Center. While this number is larger than the one Trump noted, it is also a decrease of almost a million people from a year prior. The number is also set to decrease even more in 2016: Due to the program’s changing requirements, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates one million unemployed and childless people will lose their benefits.
Some SNAP advocates believe Trump’s statistics may be more rooted in fear than reality.
“Since the time of Reagan, it’s been Republicans that have demonized this program even as many of their supporters have benefited from them,” Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, told the International Business Times. “The fact of the matter is that food stamp enrollment went up heavily during (President George W.) Bush.”
Trump has yet to clarify his statement and it's unclear what he plans on doing to change SNAP if he’s elected in 2016.