Erick Payne | Senior Producer
Oklahoma just can’t seem to stay out of the national spotlight this year, and for all the wrong reasons.
The Oklahoma Republican party is apologizing for a post on its Facebook page comparing people who use food stamps to animals dependent on handouts.
“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,” the post stated.
“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.”
OU students are reacting to the post and OK DHS, which runs the food stamps program, said the statement was “disgusting”
Even some of the party’s own members are denouncing the post, including State Senator Stephanie Bice.
“Yesterday, the OK GOP made a Facebook post that in my opinion was crass and offensive. The comparisons made in the post were vulgar.
“Many across our country find themselves needing assistance due to circumstances beyond their control, and we as a community must stand up to help those less fortunate.”
“Therefore, I am challenging each of my Republican friends today to go to your local grocery store and purchase $10 worth of food and deliver it to your local food pantry, and post a pic on social media of your donation.”
GOP Chairman Randy Brogdon followed up by stating the post was intended to illustrate the government dependency cycle. He apologized for “any misconceptions that were created.”
“Last night, there was a post on our OKGOP Facebook page, and it was misinterpreted by many. I offer my apologies for those who were offended – that was not my intention.”
“This post was supposed to be an analogy that compared two situations illustrating the cycle of government dependency in America, not humans as animals.”
“However I do think it’s important to have conversations about government welfare programs since our dependency on government is at its highest level ever.”
“Quoting President Reagan, “We should measure welfare’s success by how many people leave welfare, not by how many people are added.”
“As read in our Oklahoma Republican Statement of Principles, we believe that “free market principles are the best to stimulate our economic development rather than government subsidies or programs” and I was doing my best to echo that view.”
“Again, I apologize for any misconceptions that were created.”
Here are some facts about food stamps, officially called the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program:
- Oklahoma ranks 15th in the U.S. in food stamp participation.
- 586,743 Oklahomans and 46 million Americans depend on food stamps to eat.
- 45 percent of Oklahomans using food stamps are children and 37 percent of households using the benefit have an adult who is disabled or elderly.
- Businesses and retailers benefit. In Oklahoma’s 2014 fiscal year, $900.7 million was pumped into the state’s economy through food stamps, down from the previous year of $957.4 million. So far this year, Oklahoma businesses have received $643.6 million through food-stamp redemptions.