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A food drive at Newark Liberty International Airport, on Jan. 23, 2019. (AP/Julio Cortez) A food drive at Newark Liberty International Airport, on Jan. 23, 2019. (AP/Julio Cortez)

A food drive at Newark Liberty International Airport, on Jan. 23, 2019. (AP/Julio Cortez)

By Patrick Downey May 10, 2019
By Kenneth Harmonay May 10, 2019

Are 19% of West Virginians on food stamps?

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., recently took to Twitter to criticize a Trump administration proposal on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, sometimes known as food stamps.

Manchin wrote: "19% of WVians rely on SNAP, but proposed changes would take food assistance from those struggling to find stable employment while doing nothing to help them to become permanently employed. I'm urging @USDA Sec Sonny Perdue to withdraw the proposal."

The tweet linked to a press release from Manchin explaining his position on the proposal, which would give states less flexibility on enforcing work requirements for SNAP beneficiaries. Manchin and several dozen senators from both parties expressed opposition to the proposal.

We won’t address the pros and cons of the Trump administration proposal here, but we did wonder if almost one of every five people in West Virginia rely on SNAP.

We checked with experts and looked at the data, and it turns out that Manchin was pretty close to the mark.

In February 2019, the most recent month for which full data is available, West Virginia had 314,042 SNAP beneficiaries. Meanwhile, the state’s estimated population for 2018, according to the Census Bureau, was 1,805,832.

That works out to 17.4 percent of state residents, or a bit lower than the 19 percent figure Manchin cited.

Our ruling

Manchin said, "19% of WVians rely on SNAP, but proposed changes would take food assistance from those struggling to find stable employment while doing nothing to help them to become permanently employed."

The percentage Manchin cited is a little high, but it’s close. We rate his statement Mostly True.

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Mostly True
"19% of WVians rely on SNAP," or food stamps.
a tweet
Friday, March 29, 2019

Our Sources

Joe Manchin, tweet, March 29, 2019

U.S. Department of Agriculture, SNAP participants by state, accessed May 10, 2019

American Fact Finder, West Virginia data, accessed May 10, 2019

Email Interview with Bruce D. Meyer, University of Chicago, April, 22 2019

Email Interview with Craig Gunderson, University of Illinois, April, 23 2019

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More by Patrick Downey

Are 19% of West Virginians on food stamps?

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