A Sunday report in the Washington Post told the story of a town in Rhode Island almost entirely dependent on federal aid in the form of food stamps.
It was a stirring read for Post editorial writer Charles Lane...
What really caught my attention, though, were the photographs that showed what some SNAP recipients bought with their government-funded debit cards: Cheetos Puffs, a one-ounce handful of which contains 10 grams of fat; a box containing two dozen 12-ounce cans of Fanta Orange soda, each of which contains 44 grams of sugar; a carton of six-ounce Capri Sun drink pouches, each of which contains 16 grams of sugar.
In short, this immense nutrition program pays for a lot of stuff that is the opposite of nutritious.
Lane's column calls on Congress and the president to establish stricter guidelines as to what food stamp recipients can purchase. "Of course the federal government should be able to leverage its purchasing power for socially beneficial purposes," he says. "If you take Uncle Sam’s help, you play by his rules. I repeat: This is a nutrition program, or so the taxpayers who fund it are told. It should nourish."
He also says there's no "stigma" in shopping healthy. (I'd add that for those on food stamps, a stigma in healthy eating is the least of their worries.)