Fact Check

Alabama Lawmaker Wants Food Stamp 'Hunger Tests'?

No, a Republican politician didn't propose saliva-based "hunger tests" prior to issuing food stamps.

Published Feb. 16, 2016

A Republican lawmaker proposed introducing "hunger tests" before issuing food stamps.

On 13 February 2016, the web site Newslo published an article claiming that Alabama congressman Robert Aderholt proposed the introduction of "hunger tests" before food stamps were issued to potential recipients:

A top Republican wants the federal government to spend half a billion dollars so states can make people on food stamps pass drug tests. Legislation Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) proposes would cut Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program spending by $1.2 billion, then plow $600 million into grants for states to carry out drug testing programs. Federal law doesn’t currently allow states to drug test food stamp recipients, an obstacle that has prevented Republicans in Georgia, Wisconsin and elsewhere from carrying out the policy. Aderholt’s bill would allow drug tests, but not require them.

... in addition to allowing states to wilfully administer drug tests to food stamp recipients, the controversial bill would also require potential recipients to be tested for actual hunger every time prior to being issued food stamps.

“Look at what’s going on right now,” the Alabama Rep. said. “The United States budget is hemorrhaging money because of drug addicts who are misusing food stamps to purchase narcotics, but what many people don’t realize is the fact that they are only part of the problem. There are many other so-called ‘legitimately poor people’ who are also receiving food stamps, but are using them to buy things like hot-tubs, motorbikes, finance pool parties and getting their hands on the latest iPhone or MacBook ... That’s why, as a way of making sure food stamps actually go to hungry people, I propose we introduce hunger tests prior to issuing the stamps to every potential beneficiary. The logistics of it are still in the works, but from what I can gather, we’d be using a benign chemical that would be able to tell whether or not a person is experiencing hunger from their saliva. The chemical would be located on the stamps themselves, and upon licking the stamp, as you would a simple stamp at a post office, we would know straight away if a person is trying to trick us or if they really deserve food.

While it's true that Rep. Aderholt introduced a bill on 11 February 2016 in support of requisite drug testing for food stamp recipients, all but the first paragraph quoted above was embellished (as Newslo itself indicated). Articles on the self-styled "hybrid" news site Newslo (as well as sister sites Religionlo and Politicalo) regularly build upon controversial news items with fabricated details that range from subtle to outlandish.

Newslo and related pages display an interactive feature allowing readers to "Show Facts" or "Hide Facts":

However, content published by Newslo, Politicalo, and Religionlo displays by default in "Hide Facts" mode, ensuring that many visitors are unaware that fabricated details appeared alongside otherwise accurate news items. In addition to the "Show Facts/Hide Facts" feature, Newslo's disclaimer states:

Newslo is the first hybrid News/Satire platform on the web. Readers come to us for a unique brand of entertainment and information that is enhanced by features like our fact-button, which allows readers to find what is fact and what is satire.

Previous Newslo, Religionlo, and Politicalo articles that proved confusing to social media users included items claiming that Marco Rubio said women should be placed in custody if it was suspected they were considering an abortion, that Pat Robertson said gay people should wear specific colors by which heterosexual people could easily identify them, that Pastor John Piper decreed bikini waxes a sin in the eyes of God, that David Bowie was alive but held hostage by operatives of Satan, and that Ted Cruz believed God would not have allowed Antonin Scalia to die at a time that was potentially not politically expedient.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.