The quality, quantity and affordability of nutrition dense (or not so nutrition dense) foods in our nation are heavily influenced by the relatively little noticed “Farm Bill” updated by our legislature every five years. (more accurately, updated by a few legislators from agricultural states) In addition to specifying crops which qualify for federal subsidies the “Farm Bill” outlines the parameters of the food stamp program. The following article by Andy Fisher does an excellent job in describing the dialectics of that debate.
Banning Soda for Food Stamps’ Recipients Raises Tough Questions
October 8th, 2010 By Andy Fisher
On Thursday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he had asked the US Department of Agriculture to allow the city to exempt soda from the permitted list of items its 1.7 million food stamp recipients can purchase with their benefits. This ban would last for two years, enough time to assess its effects and determine whether the ban should be continued on a permanent basis. New York City food stamp recipients spend an estimated $75 million to $135 million of their $2.7 billion in food stamps annually on soda, according to AP.
Anti-hunger and public health advocates at odds over proposal
Public health advocates contend the obesity epidemic is costing the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars per year in increased health care costs, and sugar sweetened drinks are a major factor. They correctly note that low income persons tend to have higher rates of diet related diseases than the general public: poor New Yorkers have twice the rate of adult-onset diabetes than compared to the wealthiest. Mayor Bloomberg noted, “Sugar-sweetened drinks are not worth the cost to our health, and government shouldn’t be promoting or subsidizing them.” Read the rest..