Tag Archives: Mayor

Should Food Stamp Purchases Be Limited to Healthy Food?

Fooducate (a great app to use in the grocery store to see
how healthy your food really is) asked the title question on their
blog
. My response: The choices should be limited to
healthy foods. They listed these potential objections, to
which I would ask people to simply consider a parallel of neighbors
helping each other.

  • Limiting the food choices
    is paternalistic nanny state oversight.
Limiting choices on drink
sizes is ridiculous. That is true nanny-statism. But
this is vastly different: You have a choice to accept or reject the
free food offered by fellow citizens.
Would you accuse your neighbor of such things if they only
offered you free healthy food?
  • Eliminating food
    choice would create a stigma and shame SNAP
    beneficiaries.
What stigma? You are getting free food.
You should be grateful.
  • The diets of SNAP
    participants are generally comparable to the diets of Americans of
    similar economic means, so why single poor people out?
Because taxpayers are paying for their food.
  • The cost of reprogramming computers and retraining
    grocery store staff for the hundreds of thousands of food items in
    stores is prohibitive.
It would be worth it to help those people.
And it would save on the medical
costs.
  • Where will the line be drawn between healthy /
    non-healthy foods? Is a cereal with 12 grams of sugar nutritious? 8
    grams? 4 grams? What if it has added fiber?
The details could be worked
out. I would make things really simple and focus on things like
oatmeal, milk, bread, cheese, fruits, etc. And I wouldn’t let
them have cards that they could sell for cash and use it for drugs,
cigarettes, bad food, etc. Part of our problem is that by
trying to save money with technology (normally a good thing!) we’ve
made it too easy to abuse the program. That kills the cost
savings.