Food Stamps Often Spent On Sugary Drinks, To The Tune Of $2 Billion Per Year

Food stamps are a frequent point of contention when how taxpayer dollars are spent becomes part of the conversation, and — despite the fact benefits to pay for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program pale in comparison to larger expenditures like defense, Social Security, and general corporate welfare — food stamps really bring out the anger in many taxpayers.

Food stamps — now referred to as SNAP due to the fact it utilizes a debit-style card instead of the stamps that stores used to accept — can be used to pay for all manner of foodstuffs in supermarkets and convenience stores across the US including sugary drinks like soda. The sole exception tends to be hot food that can be eaten in the store like a rotisserie chicken, but many feel that the food stamps program should be stricter and allow for only staple foods like rice and beans instead of meats, fresh produce, and cookies or cakes.

People who find food stamps to be too generous will probably not be pleased with the results of a new survey of American grocery expenditures, one that determined $2 billion of food stamp funds are spent solely on sugary sodas and other ostensibly unhealthy options. The research, set to be published in October in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, demonstrates that SNAP benefits are a crucial part of keeping low-income families fed but that the use of food stamps on sugar-laden foods may have an adverse effect on an obese population.

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In a release about the food stamp study, study lead author Tatiana Andreyeva says:

“SNAP benefits are critically important in helping low-income families put food on the table, and in this economy, many American families could not feed their children without the federal food assistance provided by SNAP … At the same time, the annual use of billions of dollars in SNAP benefits to purchase products at the core of public health concerns about obesity and chronic illnesses is misaligned with the goal of helping economically vulnerable families live active, healthy lives.”

Do you think guidelines on food stamp usage should be changed, or is this just another avenue to beat up on poor people?