One side effect of the recession is that more poor and working poor need help buying food for their families. What is troubling is that many people use that assistance to buy unhealthy crappy processed food instead of healthier raw food.
The actual paper stamps were phased out more than decade ago and replaced with a debit-card system, and the name of the 46-year-old program was changed 18 months ago to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). But most people still call them food stamps. And as of February, the latest data available, a record 39.7 million Americans were using them to put meals on the table, 13% of the population. Just a year ago, 33.8 million people were using food stamps.
The one thing to note is this:
But most people on food stamps are no more food-savvy than the rest of the population. They often live where decent grocery stores with reasonably priced produce require transportation they don’t have. And because most do work in low-wage jobs – sometimes multiple jobs – they, like more affluent Americans – go for the processed food that cuts down on preparation. It’s less nutritious overall than the stuff that takes more time to cook. But because recipients have a tight food budget, they are more likely to choose high-fat, calorie-packed processed foods that are typically cheaper than healthier choices. Thus, as one study at Ohio State University has shown, using food stamps may contribute to the spread of an unhealthy obesity.
In addition to the actual money, the program should stress and help in using the money to purchase healthier food stock.