Implications of Restricting the Use of Food Stamp Benefits
By most standards, almost all American diets are in need of improvement, and obesity has emerged as the Nation’s most pressing health and nutrition issue. Because of concerns about poor diet, overweight, and obesity among low-income Americans, there is considerable interest in using Federal nutrition assistance programs to promote healthy choices. Some argue that food stamp recipients should be prohibited from using their benefits to buy foods with limited nutritional value (commonly described as “junk” foods). The Food Stamp Act currently places few limits on the use of food stamp benefits, as long as they are used to buy food to eat at home. The idea of restricting the use of food stamp benefits may be appealing on its face. However, upon closer examination, serious concerns emerge regarding the feasibility and rationale for the proposed restriction.