Should SNAP be restricted to healthy food, similar to the WIC program?
The WIC (Women, Infant, Child) Federal Program is focused on healthy and nutritious foods and cannot be used for anything else. The current SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) or Food Stamp program allows for a much wider list of purchases, including foods that are very low in nutritional value or snack-type foods. Should this be changed to only include healthy foods? What other thoughts can you share?
While I think that is an excellent idea in theory, keep in mind that if SNAP were to be teatricted to healthy foods, several other things would have to he taken into consideration.
For one thing, WIC is designed for the nutritianal needs of a pregnant woman and infants and children through age 5, and there are sometimes alternative options available upon proof from a doctor that the standard items available do not apply to a specific individual. For instance, an infant who needs special formula.
Another thing to consider is that many of the healthy alternatives to boxed foods, processed foods, snack foods, etc. are more expensive. Do families or individuals get an increase in allotted SNAP benefits to cover the editional expenses? Granted there are ways to minimize the expense, but that isn't always as easy as it may sound. Families living in motel rooms, for instance, without access to an oven. It's more common than one may think. I have seen it firsthand. Or homeless who can't always home cook their meals. Besides, who would decide what foods are considered healthy enough and which ones are not? Who decides how to meet the nutritional needs of various groups of people?
I think that's a great idea, although bear in mind how this would work as far as actually checking out at the grocery store. I used WIC when my child was younger and as great as it was, it took FOREVER to process at the checkout for the cashiers because every item needs to meet the WIC standards and quantity so it needs to be given extra attention from the cashiers.
If they started restricting what are considered unhealthy foods for SNAP, then they would definitely need to restructure how all the grocery stores work with it. A lot of people use SNAP so if one person tried to buy something that's not allowed on the "healthy food" list, then get ready for long lines and waits as it gets sorted out. This happens all the time with WIC because sometimes it's very confusing as to what is allowed and what isn't. I see it all the time at the store and it causes delays and angry customers.
WIC is a fantastic program with tons of educational resources including promoting breastfeeding by supplying pumps to moms. I totally agree that if the government wants to assist families with food, it should be nutritious food. They just need to make it user-friendly.
A lot of people who use SNAP live in areas that are food deserts, and rely on convenience stores in their neighborhoods for groceries. There aren't many healthy, nutritious foods available at those stores, and many people on assistance don't have the money for transportation to travel to and from a neighborhood with a grocery store. What good is assistance if you can't use it?
I think that unhealthy foods like soda and energy drinks should be prohibited, while the ability to buy critical items like diapers is loosened.
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