America’s food-ration system swimming in soda

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May 20, 2013 by losingourcool

An article on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), run today by AlterNet and Salon, is my attempt to untangle the complex politics of what foods should and shouldn’t be eligible for the program:

“When it comes to nutritional criteria for SNAP-eligible products, both support and opposition can span the full range of political ideologies. Proposed restrictions have been condemned by many food banks and economic-justice organizations, who argue that it’s paternalistic and unfair for the government to try to dictate the food purchases of low-income families while everyone else is left to choose freely. They argue that such reforms would take us back to the bad old days before the EBT card, when people using federal food coupons faced a potentially humiliating ordeal with every trip through the checkout line. Regarding proposed restrictions on Wisconsin’s SNAP-funded program, a food-bank executive argued, ‘Rather than creating hurdles, the state should make healthy food more affordable.’

“Most of the opposition to a soda ban among food-rights groups is indeed aimed at protecting the interests of SNAP participants. But in some cases, motives appear to be more problematic. In a 2011 report, the Washington, D.C.-based Food Research and Action Council maintained that purchasing restrictions would have many harmful impacts, among them an increase in “confusion and stigma at grocery check-out, potentially causing a decline in SNAP participation that could worsen food insecurity.” But FRAC, a consistently strong defender of food assistance, itself receives funding from a who’s-who of SNAP’s agribusiness and corporate food beneficiaries, among them the Coca-Cola Company, Pepsico, Inc., Mars Incorporated, the Sara Lee Foundation, and Walmart.”

 

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