Progress is not as easy to define as we may think. Some would take the view that expanding a program such as SNAP (food stamps) is positive because it helps more people. Others, including me, would say progress is creating an economic environment where fewer people are in need of such programs. Clearly we have not accomplished the later.
Our government seems not focused on the economic problem, but the nutritional “problem.” HHS is proposing new rules that require stores accepting SNAP to offer a broader array of meats and vegetables. Of course this hurts small stores and chains such as 7Eleven where such foods rarely exist and SNAP buys soda and chips. The idea is to encourage better eating habits.
If taxpayers are footing the bill, should they have a say in how that money is used? Would it make sense to limit more of what can be purchased as opposed to creating a greater burden on small businesses?
More than 45 million people received SNAP funds last year, at an average of $126.83 a month, up from three million people in 1969 receiving $42.82, when adjusted for inflation. About 265,000 stores redeem those food stamps. From 2010 to 2015, the percentage redeemed at convenience stores, liquor stores, dollar stores, pharmacies and gas stations nearly doubled to reach 11.6%, or $8 billion, of SNAP funds, according to USDA data. “It troubles me when a place is defacto just a liquor store…and then I see EBT accepted here,” Mr. Concannon said, referring to SNAP debit cards. Wall Street Journal 6-29-16.
SNAP benefits can be used to purchase all food products, not including: beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, or tobacco; any nonfood items; vitamins and medicines; foods that will be eaten in the store; or hot foods.
So, SNAP can purchase Starbucks K-cups, caviar, chips, soda, Devil Dogs and all manner of junk food, but it can’t be used to buy a hot roasted chicken, hot foods from a salad bar or a salad bar that will be eaten in the store (many supermarkets have hot and cold bars and places to eat in the store).
Wouldn’t it be great to see the 45 million receiving SNAP dramatically decrease because it’s not needed? Wouldn’t it be great if the food taxpayers purchased was nutritious and really “food?”