Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides low/no-income people/families living in the US assistance with food purchasing. The average person gets around $133 per month. There were 46,224,722 people on SNAP as of October 2011. This costs taxpayers $65 billion in 2011. And the amount of people joining this program is only growing. So, one would think, there must be a lot of hungry people in the US; the strongest country in the world. But, there is also a rising obesity issue spreading throughout our country. Obesity is constantly rising as well. So as SNAP usage increases, there is a direct correlation to the rise of obesity.
The reason for this odd correlation is due to the types of food people are buying while on food stamps. There is direct evidence linking strong sugary drinks with obesity. And yes, you can buy soda with food stamps. Taxpayer’s money is being used by a large parentage of US citizens to consume free soda, which increases the change of becoming obese, which also leads to health problems such as heart attack, diabetes, cancer; which then causes more tax payer money to be used to help these individuals fix their problem through Medicaid. One study pointed out that Medicaid kids are 6 times more likely to be treated for severe obesity compared to kids with private insurance.
SNAP needs to be reformed. Items like bubble gum, soda, pork rinds and other unhealthy foods should not be available through SNAP. Not saying that people on SNAP can’t buy these foods, it’s a free country, everyone is granted the freedom to purchase what they want in a free market. But money from taxpayers, 65 billion of it, should not be used to purchase these insanely unhealthy foods. If someone wants a soda, or a candy bar, let him or her pay for it themselves, with their own hard earned money. Another study examined the percentage of SNAP purchases were conducted at convenience stores; a whopping 15%=$11.6 billion dollars annually. That’s the problem with SNAP, its free money, and people are more prone to purchase unhealthy food with free money. Heck, ill have a soda if it’s free, but I never buy the stuff at a store. People make different purchasing decisions when shopping with their own hard earned cash, usually more strategic, trying to make every penny count.
A cheap way of living consists of buying the most energy rich food at the lowest cost. And if this is what you have to do to put food on the table, then have at it. But if someone or a family is receiving supplemental food assistance, which allows them to shop for themselves, there needs to be some regulations as to what foods can be purchased with taxpayer money. Because when a SNAP recipient buys soda, or other unhealthy foods, it affects society as a whole in a negative way.
Being hungry is very normal; everyone should feel hungry every day. But there are people/families that go hungry without choice, for long periods of time. These people need assistance, and if the help is coming from taxpayer money. Then foods that cause more harm than good should not be available for purchase through SNAP. People can buy junk food with their own money. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and local foods should be at the top of the list. There are direct correlations with counties throughout the US with high percentages of SNAP users, and high obesity rates. This is a serious problem, and things need to change.
SNAP has lead to fraud as well. People sign up with fake names, and can sell the cards, or food for cash, and sometimes drugs. One year 2.7 billion dollars in SNAP funds were the victim of fraud.
Yet some people think everything is just fine, like this guy.