Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Food Stamps: A Suggestion Toward a Healthy Diet

Every once in a while I get a demonstration of just how wrong a good idea can go. Today, in a grocery store line, I saw a perfect example of that from a family buying about $200 worth of groceries with food stamps.

The four family members (grandma, mother, two children), all of whom were obese, purchased more than 20 bags of groceries and I watched as item by item was checked through. I did not see one green vegetable, one package of raw meat, one piece of fruit. I saw several bags of potato chips, boxes of crackers of various kinds, gummy-bears and snacks aplenty and an entire diet from the middle isles of the grocery store where all the poison is sold.

It occurred to me at the time that the fault here is not only with the family--which probably doesn't know better than to eat what it has always eaten--but with the program that simply gives food tickets without designating what kinds of foods can be bought.

I know that my conservative friends--who abhor the program to begin with--will say I'm proposing a nanny state and if that's the case, then so be it. Still, I think there should be limits on our largesse. I believe that those receiving food stamps should be educated (free classes with babysitting available) in nutrition and their stamps should be divided into three categories, each of which gets a third of the total grant: green stamps for fruit and vegetables; beige stamps for fruits, vegetables and fresh meats; and red stamps for everything else that qualifies as food. That would be two thirds of the grant for fresh food.

I am well aware that a good diet is more expensive than a bad diet, that a dollar meal at McDonald's is a poor substitute for a balanced meal that costs $4. But we have to start getting people out of poverty and a good start is a balanced diet that helps them to become healthy, energetic and eager to learn.

We are enslaving people with the current system and we need to stop it. If we're going to give away billions of dollars in food stamps each year, I think we should make sure the people getting those stamps are getting value for them.

(Graphic: from  (here), where there is an interesting piece about the price of food.) 

1 comment:

  1. The WIC program for pregnant and nursing women and children actually does restrict what can be purchased. I've seen several Kroger cashiers help customers swap an unapproved for an approved one.