Where does the $70 plus billion spent annually on U.S. government food stamps end up?
There are countless stories of food stamp fraud. Just do a Google search for “food stamp fraud” and you’ll find no shortage of news stories documenting it. These were just some notable cases within the past two days of me typing these words.
Luckily, such examples of fraud only make up a small percentage of the food stamps budget – but that doesn’t mean recipients aren’t contributing to the waste themselves. What are people buying with food stamps? According to the New York Times, one hell of a lot of soda.
The United States Department of Agriculture, which oversees the $74 billion food stamp program called SNAP, has published a detailed report that provides a glimpse into the shopping cart of the typical household that receives food stamps.
The findings show that the No. 1 purchases by SNAP households are soft drinks, which accounted for 5 percent of the dollars they spent on food. The category of ‘sweetened beverages,’ which includes fruit juices, energy drinks and sweetened teas, accounted for almost 10 percent of the dollars they spent on food. “In this sense, SNAP is a multibillion-dollar taxpayer subsidy of the soda industry,” said Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. “It’s pretty shocking.”
For years, dozens of cities, states and medical groups have urged changes to SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, to help improve nutrition among the 43 million poorest Americans who receive food stamps. Specifically, they have called for restrictions so that food stamps cannot be used to buy junk food or sugary soft drinks.
But the food and beverage industries have spent millions opposing such measures, and the U.S.D.A. has denied every request, saying that selectively banning certain foods would be unfair to food stamp users and create too much red tape.
Isn’t it about time we regulate food stamps so people can’t buy CRAP at the taxpayer’s expense? Let us know what you think in the comments section below and share this post on Facebook and Twitter!