The Oklahoma Republican Party drew parallels between food stamp recipients and animals in a Monday Facebook post, calling it a "lesson in irony."
Here's the post in full.
The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing this year the greatest amount of free Meals and Food Stamps ever, to 46 million people.
Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us "Please Do Not Feed the Animals." Their stated reason for the policy is because "The animals will grow
dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves."
Thus ends today's lesson in irony #OKGOP
The number of households under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the state has risen steadily since 2000, going from 7.5 percent to 16.1 percent of households in 2014, according to Census Bureau statistics. In 2014, the average benefit per household was $257 per month, and the total amount received was about $865 million a month.
Nationally, the total number of people receiving SNAP benefits was 46.67 million in 2014, a 171 percent increase from about 17.2 million in 2000. The average monthly benefit also increased during this period from $77 to $134, though in real terms the increase was only $29.
A growing number of SNAP recipients are choosing to spend their benefits on fresh food at farmers' markets, according to local newspaper Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise. Between 2010 and 2014, the amount of SNAP dollars spent at farmers' markets and local farms grew from about $13,000 to almost $50,000. The number of farmers' markets and direct marketing farmers accepting SNAP also rose from 2 to 36 in the same period.
In June, Oklahoma state officials announced a plan to cut about 200 positions from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services while adding 300 child welfare positions. However, despite downsizing in several areas including care for the elderly and the disabled, officials said that food stamp benefits would not be reduced.
Federal SNAP benefits were restored in the new budget in December after seeing deep cuts last February when President Barack Obama signed a bill that would prune $8.7 billion in SNAP benefits over the next decade.