In response to news reports that USDA is encouraging increased participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) through Spanish soap operas, U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) today sent a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack demanding a full accounting of the scope and effectiveness of taxpayer funded promotional campaigns on the SNAP program.
The following is the text of the letter:
"The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) advertises and conducts outreach for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to a wide audience. With that premise, I respectfully request that you provide data to thoroughly answer the following questions. For each of the past ten fiscal years, please provide data (both summary and individual data sets) to detail:
* What advertising or promotional campaigns were conducted? What languages were used for each campaign? How much did each campaign cost? Which states received funding for campaigns? How much funding did each state receive?
* What advertising entities were involved for each campaign? How much funding did each entity receive?
* What advertising entities donated services at no cost to the government? What was the fair market value for each donated service?
* What was the measured effect for any new SNAP participation for each campaign? How many people did each campaign reach? How many people enrolled in SNAP for the first time during or after each campaign? What budgetary impact did each campaign have on SNAP resources?
"In this budget climate, it is absolutely critical that Congress consider and understand the full impact of all budgetary expenditures in the SNAP program, including the breadth and scope of SNAP advertising. I look forward to receiving your response to these most important questions."
Senator Roberts is Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, which has jurisdiction on the SNAP program.