SNAP and Junk Food – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps million of men, women, and children with food assistance. Its goal is to prevent hunger and malnutrition in low-income families.
It is not secret that since 2008 there are more people receiving snap benefits than ever before. Today those who have lost good paying jobs are now working at minimum wage jobs and some individuals work two or more jobs and still can not feed their family.
SNAP and Junk Food
Wikipedia defines “junk food” as: “Junk food is a pejorative term for cheap food containing high levels of calories from sugar or fat with little fiber, protein, vitamins or minerals.”
Should SNAP users be allowed to purchase food that has little or no nutritional value? There is no question that a support system to feed disadvantaged families is a good thing.
The question is, should those receiving SNAP benefits be allowed to purchase junk food? These benefits that are meant to offer food assistance that should benefit the poor.
You often hear people speak with disgust about people using Food Stamps fill their shopping carts with junk food. These looker-oners are angry because their tax dollars are helping SNAP users become fatter and more unhealthy.
A hand full of states like, Kentucky, Michigan, Arizona, and parts of California allow you to purchase fast food with Food Stamps. This option may be more acceptable for the homeless or those living in a shelter.
- Ice cream
- French fries
- Potato chips
Also, those who eat junk food are more subject to becoming obese, become diabetic, suffer heart disease, hypertension, and other weight associated disease. Again these same people will put a burden on American debt as their free medical care will have to be paid for by others.
WIC Benefits are Different than SNAP – How it Works
Women, Infant and Children or WIC benefits is a supplemental food program to help pregnant women, infants, and children. These food benefits help pregnant women give birth to healthier children. It also gives infants and children a good start with early development.
WIC’s Mission “To safeguard the health of low-income women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutrition risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, and referrals to health care.”
Again, there is no doubt that pregnant women and child should have access to milk, formula, and healthy foods. There are differences between WIC and Food Stamp benefits. Those receiving WIC are given ‘food vouchers” naming the type of food each voucher can purchase.
People receiving WIC can buy:
- Baby Formula
- Fresh fruit
- Canned fish
- Fresh vegetables
- Peanut butter
- Breakfast cereal
- Dried and canned beans
- Whole wheat bread
If you will notice from the list above, everything on the list is healthy and wholesome food.
Should SNAP Ban Unhealthy Junk Food?
If the government allows families receiving WIC to only purchase healthy food for their families, why doesn’t the government do same with the SNAP benefits? Americans love junk food. it’s cheap, tasty and is the single greatest cause of weight-related disease in the United States. If someone can not afford to feed their family, she they be allowed to waste the tax-payer money buying junk food?
Depending on the state you live, a family of five receive about $511 a month to feed their family. That breaks down to under $6 a day to feed each person. If people receiving Food Stamps receive so little, is it wise to waste even $1 on junk food?
Junk food is not a right, it is a luxury. The purpose of Food Stamps benefits is to prevent hunger and provide food assistance to the poor. Why not assure these families only have access to food that will promote a healthy diet.
Banning junk food purchases with SNAP will not stop people from enjoying snacks. Sixty years ago it was a common practice for women to bake homemade cakes or cookies. Mom’s even made their own potato chips. Making these snack too extra time and effort. As a result, they were not eaten every day.
In the 1950’s only 10% of adults were obese, compared to 35.7 % of the population today. Decades ago there were fewer cases of childhood obesity and diabetes back then. Do you think junk food should be allowed to be purchased with SNAP benefits?