Should Fast Food Restaurants Be Allowed To Accept Food Stamps?

Only three states — Arizona, Michigan, and California — currently allow fast food restaurants to take payments from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (better known as “food stamps”), but Yum! Brands, parent company of KFC and Taco Bell, is currently leading a push in its home state of Kentucky to open that option up to state residents there.

Joining the fast food giant in lobbying for this change is the Coalition for the Homeless, which believes that, for people who don’t live near a grocery store and can’t afford a restaurant, “This would allow people to get a reduced price meal at a small deli or a restaurant, and that does include fast-food restaurants.”

Those opposed to the change believe that the government should not subsidize the consuming of fast food. They argue that, by allowing SNAP recipients to purchase fast food, the government will only be spending more on these people later in life when their health fails.

Writes clinical dietician Tim Gustafson on SeattlePI.com:

If government can afford to subsidize big industries – and let’s face it, allowing fast food places to accept food stamps is ultimately a subsidy program for the corporations who own them – it can also show some support for small produce farms. Our taxes would be well spent by keeping healthy nutrition affordable for everyone and by investing in our local agriculture at the same time. Food stamps should be made welcome at all farmers markets and urban farms.

What’s not really mentioned in this back and forth is that, at least in Kentucky, SNAP benefits can be used to purchase almost any food item. And as anyone who has been to a grocery store can tell you, there is no shortage of food there that can have the same — or worse — adverse effects you might get from fast food.

Fast Food Chains Lobby for the Use of Food Stamps in Restaurants [SeattlePI.com]