Times Writers Group: Stamps for fast food unsavory - St. Cloud Times

Thank you for using rssforward.com! This service has been made possible by all our customers. In order to provide a sustainable, best of the breed RSS to Email experience, we've chosen to keep this as a paid subscription service. If you are satisfied with your free trial, please sign-up today. Subscriptions without a plan would soon be removed. Thank you!

Buying fast food with food stamps? Really?

The food stamp program generally prohibits food stamps to be exchanged for prepared foods, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But last week news broke about this very idea because Yum! Brands, the owners of fast-food chains such as Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC, wants a piece of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program pie.

While the National Restaurant Association supports Yum! Brands' push to capitalize on the food stamp program, this idea of allowing nutrition assistance for burgers, fries and pizza doesn't sit right with me.

According to the USDA, between 2005 and 2010, food stamp benefits, which are distributed under SNAP, swelled from $28.5 billion to $64.7 billion. And with businesses such as grocery stores, dollar stores, pharmacies and gas stations having control of the electronic-benefit transfer market, some fast-food chains would like their share.

Four states — California, Arizona, Michigan and Florida — have adopted policies to allow restaurants the ability to serve meals under SNAP to the disabled, elderly or the homeless.

"It makes perfect sense to expand a program that's working well in California, Arizona and Michigan, enabling the homeless, elderly and disabled to purchase prepared meals with SNAP benefits in a restaurant environment," Yum! spokesman Jonathon Blum told USA Today.

Perfect sense or a perfect opportunity to make money?

Not so good for you

First, fast food is not one of the healthiest options for meals. One of the main ideas behind nutrition assistance is to assist in providing an adequate diet for the needy, with staples such as breads, fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy products. Since when is deep-fried chicken considered essential in one's diet?

The idea behind providing the means for lower income people to eat healthier is that they would choose healthier options. Adding fast-food chains to the list of options for SNAP benefits seems to defeat this purpose. According to Kelly Brownell, director of Yale's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, "It's preposterous that a company like Yum! Brands would even be considered for inclusion in a program meant for supplemental nutrition."

(Page 2 of 2)

Fast-food chains are notorious for foods high in calories, sodium, sugars and fats, which can lead to health issues such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. While they are quick and convenient options for meals, the idea behind nutrition assistance is to provide something healthy to eat.

Your tax money

Second, I have a real issue with tax dollars being spent on nonessentials. Grocery stores sell essentials. Fast-food chains do not. As a taxpayer, SNAP benefits should go only to essentials, such as bread, hamburger, milk and other basic items necessary for a healthy diet. Restaurants, such as McDonald's and KFC, are treats. One can live without treats, especially if I'm footing the bill.

Giving a person the green light to eat fast food won't teach them how to make or choose healthier options. Instead, it gives them a quick way to score a meal.

With the federal government, under the leadership of first lady Michelle Obama, taking on childhood obesity, SNAP should be encouraging consumption of healthier products and teaching children and parents the benefits of a better diet.

Edward Cooney of the congressional Hunger Center stated, "They think going hungry is better?" Obviously, no one feels that going hungry is a solution, but is including fast food the appropriate answer? This idea seems to undermine the intent of the food stamp program, which is to help those in need get a healthy meal.

This is the opinion of Vicki Ikeogu, a mass communications and social studies major at St. Cloud State University. Her article is published the third Thursday of every month.

15 Sep, 2011

Source: http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&usg=AFQjCNF3URLTwQPm2UwohgobsxRUNjt8Pg&url=http://www.sctimes.com/article/20110915/OPINION/109150029/Times-Writers-Group-Stamps-fast-food-unsavory
Manage subscription | Powered by rssforward.com

What's on Your Mind...

Powered by Blogger.