I hated being sent to the store for groceries. I hated it even more that instead of money, I was sent with food stamps. Even though it was pretty much commonplace to see them being used, there was the stigma attached to them and embarrassment as well. I still remember on one occasion running into a classmate at the corner store. I tried my hardest to hide the food stamps, but failed. He pulled them out of my hand and waved them around. I could feel the tears well up in my eyes, but the store owner quickly came and snatched them from the boy’s hands and threw him out of the store.
Since the advent of the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, I guess you can say using public assistance has become a lot more inconspicuous. No one has to see you pull out food stamps from a book, instead your benefits are accessed through your EBT card. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, between 2005-2010, the number of business that accept food stamps have grown by 1/3.
In a report done by USA Today, many restaurants are now trying to get a share of the food stamp/EBT money:
Louisville-based Yum! Brands, whose restaurants include Taco Bell, KFC, Long John Silver’s and Pizza Hut, is trying to get restaurants more involved, federal lobbying records show.
That’s a prospect that anti-hunger advocates welcome, but one that worries some current food stamp vendors and public health advocates.
Federal rules generally prohibit food stamp benefits, which are distributed under the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), from being exchanged for prepared foods. Yet a provision dating to the 1970s allows states to allow restaurants to serve disabled, elderly and homeless people, USDA spokeswoman Jean Daniel said.
Of course there are both to consider.
How would allowing the use of EBT cards at fast food restaurants affect childhood obesity rates? Like my friend Danielle said today, “the hood doesn’t have grocery stores”, and she definitely has a point. When I was a kid, you couldn’t just walk to a grocery store. We had bodegas on just about every corner that accepted food stamps, and let me not forget the Korean owned “fish” markets, where you could get a healthy fried fish sandwich, which most people preferred to the fresh fish they also had available.
Some parents are lazy, and would probably use the EBT access in a heartbeat at the likes of Taco Bell, KFC & Long John Silvers. So I can see why people like Kelly Brownell, director of Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity would have an issue with it:
But if we’re speaking in regards to the homeless population that typically doesn’t have access to refrigerators and grocery shopping, how preposterous is it for them to have access to already cooked food?