NPR had a piece about this on Morning Edition (by Allison Aubrey): Could Taxes or Food Stamp Restrictions Tame America’s Sweet Tooth?
My thoughts are this:
First and foremost: we can’t police what people eat, no matter how badly we want to. I don’t want to engage in a slippery-slope argument, but what exactly will the criteria be to ban what people eat? Just chips? What about tortilla chips or pita chips? Could folks buy all the ingredients to make brownies but not a pre-made mix of brownies (Michael Pollan rule #39 anyone?)? Would we ban canned vegetables (because fresh or frozen is way better). [The same argument is being made by food
companies lobbyists in regard to the potential policy taxing certain foods.]
I get that for some reason people are annoyed/irritated/offended when they see someone buying oreos with Food Stamps but I have bad news: its none of our damn business what people are eating (you know, so long as it is food).
Yeah, it’d be nice if people, either on food stamps or buying with their own cash ate better or just less sugar. There are serious long term side effects that we all pay for when folks of any kind eat poorly all the time. You know, I am not thrilled about the fact that the money I pay toward my health insurance partially goes to pay for gastric bypasses. I mean, basically someone is just being physically forced to eat less as opposed to the much less expensive procedure of “just eating less”. I am frustrated that there are folks who end up with preventable type-2 diabetes due to their lifestyle choices.* But I’m not going to knock a cupcake out of someone’s hand before it reaches his/her mouth and I’m not going to ask them if they really need that ice cream that is in their grocery cart.
And maybe you are making the argument Ronda Storms is making, that because people are receiving food stamps at the government’s expense that that means we get to nanny them. But everyone receives financial benefits (e.g. tax breaks) from the government but maybe its not as direct as food stamps**. So, yeah, I am buying my ice cream with my “hard-earned money” but its with funds I have thanks to my tax-return or the hundreds of dollars I save every month being in the IBR program which is subsidized by the government.
*I know not everyone who has type 2 diabetes has it because of lifestyle choices.
**There is a specific term for this kind of help but I’m saving that whole explanation for another post.