I read this article and a point that seems to be overlooked is that the people most being targeted to change their eating habits, are feeding those habits with the help of the federal government. Most of the low-income families that these doctors and nutritionists would like reach are using public assistance to provide an unhealthy diet to their children and themselves.
I'm talking about the role food stamps, or SNAP, as the program is now known, plays in the eating habits of Americans. The only things that are off limits are tobacco and alcohol, everything else is fair game. I can't tell you the number of times I have been in line behind a family with two, not one but two, carts filled with every junk food imaginable. Everything from frozen pizzas, potato chips, cookies, candy and, as we use to call it as kids, the good cereals. Which is basically anything with a cartoon mascot.
And the dagger was watching the mother pull out her food stamp card to pay for it all. As a single professional watching it, knowing that the dollars I was paying in taxes were contributing to the system, I gotta admit it was frustrating.
If one needs government assistance to eat, they should be able to get it. But I can't subscribe to it being used to create a nation of junk food junkies. What makes it worse it that they can use SNAP at fast food restaurants. It's no surprise that the people in charge of that industry saw the dollar signs and jumped on the bandwagon.
The precedent has been set with the WIC program, which by the way is administrered by the same Department of Agriculture that runs SNAP. WIC limits what can be purchased to essential items, not everything on the shelf. If the USDA would tighten the noose on what receipients could buy while on the program, they could either comply and pay for those items with cash or pay for everything with cash. That would steer them towards a diet that would be more conducive to them leading a healthy life and satisfying their munchies.
Creative Loafing Atlanta
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