SNAP Is Looking to Change The Way People Use "Food Stamps"
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, is a controversial program. Apparently, every person in America knows someone who knows someone who uses them to buy steaks and lobster. This is usually an urban legend perpetuated by conservatives, going back to Ronald Reagan’s welfare queen story. But it does not change the fact that most people believe myths and misinformation about the program, which is designed to help poor people afford nutritious food.
Unlike WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) which is limited to what the USDA considers nutritious food, food stamps can buy any kind of junk food — according to USA Today, a casual study found that 28 percent of food stamp purchases were for bagged snacks, candy, and sugar-sweetened beverages. However, Mother Jones reports that people on food stamps eat healthier than the higher-income population. “SNAP recipients already eat more virtuously than the rest of us,” the website reads. “A 2008 USDA report found that they are less likely than those with higher incomes to consume at least one serving of sweets or salty snacks per day. More recently, a 2015 USDA study concluded that, adjusting for demographic differences, people who take SNAP benefits don’t consume any more sugary drinks than their low-income peers who aren’t in the program.”
There are incentives to eat healthy on SNAP. For example, in Indiana there is a pilot program that doubles food stamp dollars for purchase of produce at farmer’s markets. And in Massachusetts, recipients get a 30-cent credit for every food stamp dollar spent on fruits and vegetables.
Here are 5 important facts to keep in mind regarding food stamps.
1. A new program will allow people to buy groceries online using SNAP.
5. You can use SNAP to buy seeds and plants for your garden.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), “Households CAN use SNAP benefits to buy … seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat.” This can, however, prove difficult. Not all authorized SNAP vendors sell seeds and plants, and not all places that sell seeds and plants are SNAP authorized. In addition, according to SNAPGardens.org, not all SNAP-friendly farmer’s markets are listed on the list of SNAP-friendly farmer’s markets. Also, computer programs frequently deny SNAP transactions on seeds and plants, forcing the customer to ask for a manager to visit the USDA website.
However, the USDA blog reports, “For every $1 dollar set on seeds and fertilizer, home gardeners can grow an average of $25 worth of produce. Growing food from seeds and plants makes SNAP benefits last longer, allowing recipients to double the value of their benefits over time. Supplementing SNAP with homegrown food makes it possible for families to buy food products that they wouldn’t normally be able to afford. Being producers as well as consumers is an empowering experience for SNAP participants. It allows them to feel self-reliant. It’s also another great way to promote nutrition, enabling people to take pride in eating their own homegrown fruits and vegetables.”
Sadly, Congress has not authorized a study to track how many SNAP dollars go toward home or community gardening.
Myth Busting SNAP/Food Stamps
The SNAP program is surrounded by myths, such as people living in the U.S. illegally can get SNAP, but it does what it’s intended to do in spite of significant opposition — help needy families afford groceries in times of economic hardship. Most of these families are working; they just happen to have a sick or disabled child or elderly adult. SNAP can make the difference between going to bed hungry and going to bed well-fed.
HoneyColony and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on HoneyColony is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health related program.