Coming Soon? Fast Food Stamps

Editorial Staff, FooducateNovember 28, 2011 at 04:00AM

Illustration by Oliver Munday for BusinessWeek

Should Food Stamp recipients be able to use government funds to buy fast food? Yum Brands, the holding company of KFC and Taco Bell thinks YES!

If this seems totally preposterous to you, well, it’s because it is.

The aid program, now known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), was instated by the federal government during the depression years of the 1930′s to help solve two issues – feed starving families and help keep farmers in business by paying them a minimum price for their produce. And so the things people could buy with food stamps were fruits, vegetables, eggs, grains, dairy, and meat. Here’s some more information on the program.

As the years progressed, and processed foods became the mainstay of the American diet, food stamps were also being used for the purchase of soda pop, snacks, and candy.

Now YUM Brands is trying to get approval for the use of food stamps in its dining establishments in 4 states: Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida. SNAP is administered at the state level.

According to BusinessWeek, SNAP aid reached a mind boggling

$64.4 billion in the 2010 fiscal year. “Everybody wants to get a piece of that action,” says Marion Nestle, a New York University professor of nutrition and public health. “Right now it’s going to grocery stores; restaurants think that’s not fair.”

In California, as it turns out, fast food establishments are already able to receive food stamps from individuals who cannot cook from themselves – the homeless who have no kitchen and people with disabilities. So “the foot is in the door” for the fast food industry.

Thankfully, state and federal officials so far have not let the lobbying by YUM get to them. But what if McDonald’s and the rest of the fast food industry join in on the demands?

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