The United States Department of Agriculture, which is the agency that oversees our Food Stamp Program, just released a new detailed report on the Food Stamp Program.  They found that on average a food stamp recipient sends the most via percentage on ‘sweetened beverages,’ which includes pop, fruit juices, energy drinks and sweetened teas. Those purchases accounted for almost 10 percent of the dollars they spent on food.

Now does that sound logical to you?  The goal of the Food Stamp Program is “to increase food security and reduce hunger by increasing access to food, a healthful diet, and nutrition education for low-income Americans.”  Also are we not preached to by our government and specifically First Lady Michelle Obama to not eat unhealthily foods?  If so why we do allow families to purchase unhealthy foods using our taxpayer dollars?

The New York Times published an article on the new study and report from that study was based on data from an unnamed, nationwide grocery chain.  This unnamed chain provided the U.S.D.A. with monthly records of food items bought in 2011 by more than 26 million households, about three million of them food stamp recipients.

We have discovered that since 2004, a number of cities and states have sought, via legislation to restrict sugary drinks from their SNAP programs, including Maine, Minnesota and New York City under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2011. The problem is that it requires permission from the U.S.D.A., and the agency has denied every official request.

Why would they deny these requests?  Is it not a goal of the U.S. government to promote healthier eating and if so why deny these request?

The U.S.D.A. believes that we cannot tell people what to eat.  Kevin Concannon, the U.S.D.A. under secretary for food, nutrition and consumer services is quoted in the article stating:

Our goal has been to nudge people in the right direction

Really, well why then do we restrict parents on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, better known as WIC, and the national school lunch program which have strict nutrition standards what they can buy with their taxpayer dollars?

We as a civilized society are responsible to ensure that people are not starving to death but we are not responsible to give them the ability to buy anything, especially unhealthy foods.

The article in the New York Times pointed to a study by Stanford researchers that found that incentive programs do not work. When considering banning sugary drinks from SNAP, the Stanford researchers said that it:

would be expected to significantly reduce obesity prevalence and Type 2 diabetes incidence, particularly among ages 18 to 65 and some racial and ethnic minorities

I believe that our government should encourage people to eat healthier when using their own money to buy groceries but I also believe that if someone is using taxpayer dollars to feed themselves we should restrict unhealthy foods.

The Live with Renk Show airs Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to noon. To let me know your thoughts during the show please call (269) 441-9595

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