Food Stamp Facebook Shaming, Memes Hurtful To SNAP Recipients

Over on Facebook, food stamp recipients are some of the most reviled of topics -- and often, not a day will go by without some meme or another accusing the people who get SNAP benefits of fraud, laziness, or owning iPhones.

If you use Facebook or other social sites, chances are food stamp shaming is a common theme in your feed. Somehow, in a long-term economic slump with high jobless rates, food stamps have emerged as one of the most visible targets for critique.

While food stamp shaming is common on social media, so are food stamp users -- one in seven Americans are currently eligible for SNAP benefits, but you wouldn't think so given the open hatred many on Facebook have for those who receive the supplemental food assistance.

Food stamps are only available to those who fall under federal poverty guidelines, and measures were just taken to slash the popular program. But still, over on Facebook, people often post memes with taglines like "someday I hope to be able to afford a new iPhone... like the girl in front of me with the food stamps" with relative frequency.

Yahoo spoke with Ria Warrick of Oregon, a woman whose family relies on SNAP benefits to keep food on the table, about Facebook food stamp shaming.

While poverty and struggle have always been stigmatized to a degree, social media allows for users to insult hundreds of friends at a time, and Warrick explained:

"These people — my friends — who post these have no idea we receive government help every month, and I've been too ashamed to tell them. It makes me so angry they lump us all together. Yes, there are those taking advantage of benefits, but not everybody does. Some of us really do need the help until we get on our feet."

Warrick's family is lucky -- with some help, they have a road out of poverty. She added:

"I'm really excited we are on our way to self-sufficiency. I've taken the class offered by the Job Council about those who become dependent on food stamps, and I've learned ways to help us feel OK about spending cash on food. It's all part of breaking free and becoming independent."

While food stamp shaming on Facebook has become rife, the price of food has skyrocketed in the past decade -- and along with increased jobless rates, enrollment in SNAP has also jumped.