Tags: Soda | Food | Stamps | SNAP

Soda and Food Stamps Don't Mix

Monday, 15 Jul 2013 09:42 AM

By Chris Freind

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Full moons bring out eccentric behavior in people, but this last “super moon” was an extra doozy. Against all odds, I found myself agreeing with 18 big city mayors. Talk about strange bedfellows.

This Gang of 18 is requesting that the federal government make soda and sugary drinks ineligible purchases for those using Food Stamps (SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). And since 47 million people receive Food Stamps — more than the entire population of Spain — that’s a big deal.

Right idea, but wrong reason.

The mayors are attempting to combat obesity, citing the huge costs of that enormous problem. While taking a chunk out of obesity is noble, let’s cut to the skinny on the real issue.

When you’re on the public dole, there are strings — period. Exactly how it should be.

Irrelevant is whether soda contributes to diabetes, heart disease or obesity. There are no nutritional aspects to sugary drinks; so, given that the word “nutrition” appears in the program’s very name, allowing soda is contradictory.

Not surprisingly, many in SNAP have expressed righteous indignation, as have some advocacy groups.

Help me out. Why do we need advocates for people receiving free food? Only in America.

Talk about entitlement. Taxpayers foot the bill, and that’s still not enough. The expectation now is that the recipient — not the donor — should call the shots.

Those receiving generous SNAP benefits should have zero say in what they can buy. But too often they do, since this soda debate has raged for years with no action.

The same rationale applies to why welfare recipients should have to pass a mandatory drug test before receiving benefits. If those reaping taxpayers’ largesse don’t like that criteria, fine.

The American Beverage Association has been whining that sugary drinks shouldn't be singled out, stating that obesity is "a complex health condition that affects Americans of all income levels." So what? Diet soda doesn’t contribute to obesity, but has no nutritional value, so it too should be banned from SNAP.
"Targeting struggling families who rely on (food stamps') vital safety net will not make America healthier or reduce government spending," it also stated.

If only that made sense.

First, soda isn’t being singled out. We all know it’s the “thyroid problem” all members of the fat brigades have. Well, that, and the infinite supply of fattening comfort foods (along with soda) and the fact that it’s a lot easier to don sweatpants (as George Costanza says, a sign you’ve “given up”), and sit in the fat chair watching reality TV instead of going outside for a walk or, God forbid, work out once a week.

Attempts have also been made to ban candy, to no avail, so the beverage folks need to sit down and shut up on this one. It’s not about soda. It’s about the unwise use of taxpayer money.

Reduced government spending has nothing to do with it. The cost of SNAP won’t change because soda is banned. It just means people will have to use their gift card (and it is a gift card) on more nutritional choices.

And of course we’re “targeting” food stamp families. Whom else should we target? Free market consumers using their own money? Notwithstanding Mayor Bloomberg’s insane attempts to restrict soda portions, no one is doing that. Sure, obesity is a national epidemic for which we are all paying, but you won’t stop it with government bans. Personal responsibility, individual choices and suffering the consequences of bad decisions will, and should, rule the day.

But those things shouldn’t apply when public assistance is involved.

Interestingly, some on the right argue it is big brother telling people what they are permitted to buy. Others argue that such restrictions would discourage the needy from joining the program.

Really?

A) If you don’t apply for food stamps because you can’t buy grape soda, fine. Don’t let the door hit you in your large posterior on the way out.

B) So what if it’s paternalistic? You aren’t permitted to buy alcohol or cigarettes, and you shouldn’t be hauling lobsters home with food stamps. No one is saying you can’t buy soda. You just shouldn’t be doing it with other people’s money.

Watching this unfold will be fascinating, as Democrats are imploring other Democrats to institute a Republican idea.

Knocking back the sense of entitlement, instilling accountability into a government program, teaching personal responsibility, and even making people a little healthier. Hopefully, all it takes is a spoonful of sugar to make that medicine go down.

An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.

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