FACT CHECK: Do Whites Make Up The Largest Share Of Food Stamps, Medicaid Recipients?

Shane Devine | Fact Check Reporter

NBC White House correspondent Geoff Bennett claimed that whites use food stamps and Medicaid the most out of any ethnic group.

“Whites make up the largest share of those receiving food stamps (36 percent) and Medicaid (43 percent),” he tweeted Oct. 11. “Hispanics comprise the largest ethnic group to receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (37 percent).”

Verdict: True

Whites make up the largest share of food stamps and Medicaid recipients, but as a share of the U.S. population, they utilize proportionally less than other ethnic groups.

Fact Check:

Bennett was responding to comments made by rapper Kanye West in the Oval Office, where he said that many black people vote for the Democratic Party because of welfare programs.

“Kanye West’s comments today about African Americans and welfare were as objectively false as they were dangerous in perpetuating stereotypes that position low-income blacks as the face of America’s welfare system,” Bennett tweeted.

His figure for recipients of food stamps, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Non-Hispanic whites made up 36.2 percent of the 44 million people who used SNAP in fiscal year 2016 – the largest share of any ethnic group.

Non-Hispanic whites, however, accounted for 61 percent of the U.S. population in 2016, so they utilized food stamps proportionally less than their share of the population. Blacks made up 12 percent of the population, but 25.6 percent of all recipients in 2016. Hispanics accounted for 18 percent of the population and 17.2 percent of all recipients.

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) provides statistics on non-elderly Medicaid recipients using data from the Census Bureau. It found that blacks were more proportionate in their usage of Medicaid, making up 18 percent of non-elderly recipients in 2016. Whites made up the largest share – 43 percent of all recipients – while Hispanics accounted for 30 percent.

For the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, Bennett was correct that the largest share of its 2.8 million recipients in FY 2016 – 36.9 percent – were Hispanic. Black Americans made up 29.1 percent of all recipients and whites made up 27.6 percent.

Pew Research Center found that blacks are more likely than other ethnic groups to have received benefits at one point in their lives. In a 2012 survey, 64 percent of blacks, 56 percent of whites and 50 percent of Hispanics said they had used at least one of six entitlement benefits, including Medicaid, Medicare, SNAP and Social Security.

These stats line up with higher rates of poverty and food insecurity in the black and Hispanic communities. KFF estimates that 22 percent of blacks and 20 percent of Hispanics were in poverty in 2016, compared to just 9 percent of whites. For food insecurity, the USDA reports that 22.5 percent of black households, 18.5 percent of Hispanic households and 9.3 percent of non-Hispanic white households did not always have access to enough nutritious food in 2016.

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Shane Devine

Fact Check Reporter

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