[20 February/ Food Navigator USA]

SNAP benefits (or food stamps) funded by the US Federal Government should not be able to be used to fund sugar beverages and other foods that offer no nutritional value or contribute to obesity and related chronic diseases according to submissions to the House Agriculture Committee. Research by the USDA has identified that around 20% of benefits pay for such food products and the committee discussed the issue given that the aim of SNAP (or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programme) is to provide much needed nutrition and health support to American citizens. Advocates for the change argued that it would not be difficult to implement the restriction as the systems used already indicate which products that stamps can and can’t be used for. The Food Marketing Institute argued that such a restriction would be difficult and expensive to implement. Others argued that such a ban would not reduce consumption, as stamp recipients would simply use their own cash to buy sweetened products and use the stamps to buy healthier products, meaning no substantive change in the diet for the majority of recipients.