Food Stamps for Nutrition

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program better known as Food Stamps was designed for the purpose of supplementing the food costs of people in need.  As well-meaning and thought out that this program was, it is yet another example of government largess that has run amuck.  This program is costing taxpayers $80 billion this year with little control and even less knowledge on how the money is spent. Without changes, the cost over the next 10 years will exceed $800 billion.  The program is rife with corruption with many recipients gaming the system and many more using it for foods that hardly resemble anything with nutritional value.  The Department of Agriculture administers the program and the benefits are distributed by individual states. The program prohibits the purchase of alcohol, cigarettes and household products, but has no say on what types of food people can buy.  This becomes an issue when you consider our ballooning obesity crisis and the ever-growing medical costs associated with it.

Michelle Obama has gone to great lengths to enlighten the nation in her campaign to curb the epidemic of childhood obesity which should in turn make all people and not just children cognizant of the inherent dangers.  Her campaign, while ambitious, is all for naught when many of the neediest recipients are free to binge on junk and comfort foods that are eligible for purchase with government supplied food stamps.  It makes no sense for a campaign of this magnitude to be usurped by one’s ability to buy whatever food they want with government dollars, meaning your tax dollars.  There should be guidelines and restrictions on what foods qualify for purchase.  This is not an infringement on individual liberties; it is a common sense approach to getting truly nutritious food on the neediest tables without supplementing already bad habits.

Consider what this obesity epidemic is already costing our country.  Currently $190 billion per year on obesity related medical expenditures that are 21% of US healthcare costs.  Combine that with the $80 billion handed out in unregulated food stamps and you can’t help but assume that medical expenses are sure to rise.  Eat right, live longer.  Eat badly, die young.  There doesn’t seem to be much magic in that formula, just common sense.  People should always have the right to make their own decisions, however with food that realistically is being provided by the government, helping to make the correct nutritional choices I see as being the right of the provider.  If junk and comfort food is their choice, then their dollars are the ones that should be spent.

This by no means is a reflection on all food stamp recipients, but the government of all people should not be a provider of the foods responsible for our growing healthcare debacle.  Meats, poultry, fruits, vegetables, grains etc. should qualify for purchase under the program.  Chips, soda, snack cakes, candy and other junk and comfort food should not.  This is not an unreasonable expectation and should not be deemed as excessive government oversight.   We cannot be subsidizing with our dollars food programs that fly in the face of the well intentioned plan first envisioned.

 

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