By: Mark Hyman
America’s Food Stamp program has more than doubled in the last few years. It has grown from $39 billion in 2008 to $82 billion this year. Today, 46 million people – about 1 in 7 – receive food stamps. We are now being lectured on what to eat.
The food police are on patrol. In North Carolina, a 4-year old had her bag lunch confiscated by a school official who decided the turkey sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice weren’t healthy enough. Yet, there are few restrictions on how food stamps are spent. Convenience stores, dollar stores, gas stations and pharmacies – notorious for selling snack foods – now accept food stamps. Food stamps are also misused.
According to the USDA Inspector General, food stamps have been traded for drugs and weapons. The extent of the problem is difficult to know because the federal government refuses to release data on food stamp purchases. The goal of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act was to get people off public assistance. The Obama Administration is doing the opposite. They’re running commercials about how wonderful it is to receive food stamps (here, here & here). Last year, Oregon was given a $5 million award for increasing its food stamp recipients. This is so wrong on so many levels.
[The campaign to end the stigma of being on public assistance is working. In April, an Alabama night club held a "Food Stamp Friday" party celebrating those in the program.]
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I’m Mark Hyman.
Mark Hyman hosts "Behind the Headlines," a commentary program for Sinclair Broadcast Group.