The U.S. Department of Agriculture is using soap-opera-style “telenovelas” to promote the availability of food stamps to Spanish-speaking individuals.
The segments center on a mother who wants to lose weight and to serve healthier food to her daughter, The Daily Caller reports.
The 10-episode series — “Hope Park” — presents a dilemma surrounding whether the woman should apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps. Each short “episode” ends with a cliffhanger, like “Will Ramón convince Diana how easy it is to apply for SNAP? Don’t miss the next episode . . . ”
By the end of the series, the mother overcomes doubts and misinformation about seeking SNAP and finally enrolls.
Telenovelas are popular throughout Latin American and a culturally relevant way to appeal to potential applicants, the Daily Caller reports. The novelas are available on USDA’s website for state and local outreach partners for use as radio public service announcements.
But the telenovelas are being criticized for targeting non-citizens, along with Spanish-speaking citizens. The USDA noted that food stamps are not available to those in the country illegally, but some non-citizens are eligible for the benefit.
In addition, the legal children of illegal immigrants are eligible for benefits, The Daily Caller reports, creating mixed households with the potential to be intertwined with benefit programs.
“Congress allocates funds to USDA with the mandate to conduct public education about the benefits of SNAP and how to apply to help reduce hunger in America,” Amanda D. Browne, a USDA spokeswoman told The Daily Caller in an email. “The radio spots were written and produced in 2008 and are targeted to communities most at risk for hunger.”
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