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Fast Food Chains Lobby States for Food Stamp Allowances

Fast Food Chains Lobby States for Food Stamp Allowances

As the current recession continues and millions of jobless Americans are seeing their incomes and wealth disappear, the food stamp program has increased dramatically. The number of participating households has almost doubled since 2005, and the amount of money spent on the program has tripled to $65 billion annually in the same time period. Fast food conglomerate Yum! Brands wants in on this gravy train, and is now lobbying states to allow fast food franchises to accept the stamps.

USA Today reports: “Federal rules generally prohibit food stamp benefits, which are distributed under the USDA‘s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), from being exchanged for prepared foods. Yet a provision dating to the 1970s allows states to allow restaurants to serve disabled, elderly and homeless people, USDA spokeswoman Jean Daniel said.”

So, states can allow restaurants to accept food stamps from certain populations that may have difficulty preparing food for themselves. Yum! — which owns such staples as Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut and various combinations thereof — realized that if more states activated this loophole, then they could cater to the eligible populations, and bring in taxpayer-subsidized revenue. They’ve therefore spearheaded a lobbying effort to get states to change their laws.

This is kind of a mixed bag for people on all sides of the issue. The Coalition for the Homeless supports Yum!’s lobbying efforts, noting that “This would allow people to get a reduced price meal.” For those who cannot cook for themselves, it seems to make sense that they be allowed to purchase low cost food from restaurants.

At the same time, though, anti-obesity advocates counter that the kinds of food sold at fast food establishments could hardly be considered nutritious given their fat, salt and sugar content. The director of Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity called these plans “preposterous.”  Clinical dietician Timi Gustafson draws connections between fast-food and obesity, an increasingly problematic public health epidemic.

At the very least, is disturbing that fast food is being presented as the best way to provide the homeless and elderly with supplemental nutrition. In this case, it takes a fast-food lobby to make people realize that many segments of the American population are not having their needs met by current policies. Thankfully, this public flap has provided policy makers and citizens an opportunity to reexamine who are really benefiting from government nutritional policies.

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Photo credit: JoDickson.

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4:15PM PST on Feb 8, 2012

Sorry, food stamps do not belong at fast food restaurants and they were never intended to be used there.

10:38AM PST on Feb 8, 2012

Food stamps should NOT be used to buy any fast food or junk food at all.

2:28AM PST on Feb 8, 2012

Grocery stores do have fairly cheap prepared meals. IMO, people should not be allowed to buy this fast food "junk food" using food stamps. I know many many hard-working taxpayers who can't afford the indulgence of an occasional fast food treat!

2:17AM PST on Feb 8, 2012

I can't believe this is even a possibility! What about those who barely make enough money to live but yet make to much money to receive help for anything, they don't get to eat out or have fast food five days a week, why should those people work their butts off and get nothing pay for those who do nothing on our dime? I don't understand that at all! I'm just sayin'...........

8:02AM PDT on Oct 22, 2011

No way. They can go to a grocery store and spend less to get more. And it would be healthier. If they allow people using food stamps to use them at fast food restaurants, I will be disgusted.

5:34AM PDT on Sep 29, 2011

Interesting article. I can see how fast food might be a convenient way to feed homeless people. Still kinda unsure if I like the idea.

12:32PM PDT on Sep 25, 2011

Thanks for the article.

5:02PM PDT on Sep 19, 2011

Roger, The government is already involved with everything we do and we have lost a lot of our freedoms as it stands. I won't list everything we have lost as I would be typing all night long and the list would be bigger than War and Peace. Where the government needs to step in they don't and where they don't need to step in they do. Look at when the government said it's illegal to eat trans fats one freedom lost. Oh and as my daughter pointed out, junk food can be purchased at the store. So it doesn't take eating at fast food places to eat junk food. Have a great night.

7:48PM PDT on Sep 18, 2011

Doria, my post was not really advocating letting people eat junk food on taxpayer's dime. I was pointing out that as soon as the government gets involved that freedom decreases.

7:22PM PDT on Sep 18, 2011

Roger, Food stamps are not to be used to buy fast food. If they want to buy fast food then I suggest they get a job, get off food stamps and then buy what ever fast food they want. My tax paying dollars are not used to support them to buy fast food. Get a job at KFC and they can get all the fast food they want.

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