The United States Department of Agriculture oversees the food assistance program SNAP, which costs taxpayers $74 billion annually. There are millions of families who depend on food assistance programs in America, but the majority of these people are using the money to buy junk food and soda. In comparison, families who are not on food stamps spend most of their food shopping money to buy milk.
According to the NY TIMES, purchases of soda account for five percent of every dollar spent in food stamps. A whopping 20 percent is spent on junk foods, including desserts, salty snacks, high-sugar items, and sweetened beverages. Out of every dollar spent, ten cents goes towards sweetened beverages.
The New York Times reported that healthier food options including fruits and vegetables, were further down on the list.
Many health experts think this is one of the many causes of America’s ongoing obesity dilemma.
Health experts are lobbying for more restrictions on purchases made with food stamps.
David Ludwig, the director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, points out that the national school lunch programs funded by the government enforces strict nutritional standards. He believes other governmental programs like SNAP should have similar rules. He agrees that less fortunate people should be able to chose what food they prefer to eat, but he doesn’t feel taxpayer money should be used for the purchase of foods that are detrimental to public health.
States like New York, Minnesota, and Maine made attempts to have sugary drinks and junk foods removed from food stamp programs, but the USDA denied the requests.
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