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Dean of Students

Food stamps: let them eat what they want

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Welfare has been a reoccurring debate here in the United States for a number of years. Hard working, well-off Americans do not want to pay taxes to aid others who take advantage of a flawed system, yet many Americans would not be able to survive without government financial aid. Many people do not live a healthy lifestyle and these people could be receiving hard-earned dollars from other Americans to continue on with this lifestyle in the form of welfare. In order to create a” fair” middle ground, programs like Food Stamps have regulations to prevent this from happening. For example, one cannot purchase alcoholic drinks with his/her government provided Food Stamps.

In recent news, a study published by this month’s Health Affairs found that banning the purchase of soda with food stamps would dramatically decrease obesity and type-II diabetes in the U.S. It approximated that obesity rate would drop 1.12 percent for adults and 0.41 percent for children, which would affect 422,000 people in total.

Although this is a considerable amount of people, this editorial board believes the idea of banning soda purchases with food stamps is, essentially, picking on the poor. Who are we to deny these people a snack? If the government wants the poor to use their money more wisely, they should be educating people on what to buy to maintain a healthy lifestyle, instead of restricting products entirely.

The logic behind this purposed welfare restriction is non-existent. If the government was actually concerned with the side-effects of excessive soda intake, they would conclude that the complete banishment of such sugary drinks would drastically decrease diabetes and obesity rates among all people, not just those on welfare. This is a prime example of well-off Americans finding ways to place restrictions on the poor in order to control what these people purchase with their tax dollars.

If a ban like this were to be implemented into the welfare program, what is going to stop the government from banning other products and validating the ban with a cop-out excuse? It happened during the prohibition era, and it didn’t stop others from partaking in drinking. There are plenty of people chugging sugary sodas that are not on welfare, which contributes to the obesity and diabetes statistics.

Banning sugary drinks for people using Food Stamps indirectly reserves soda for those “well-off”, which is incredibly unfair. Granted, everyone should be consuming soda tentatively, but a ban on sugary drinks for the poor potentially could lead to more restrictions on foods deemed “unimportant and unhealthy.” If welfare is going to exist, let’s not place such ridiculous restrictions on what they can and cannot purchase.

Let’s give them the basic rights that every other consumer has when it comes to purchasing food with their government aid. Government regulated welfare will continue to be debated in upcoming years, for good reason. It is a flawed system, and people have taken advantage of it in the past. But, there is no reason to punish those who do indeed use it properly. Banning the purchase of sugary sodas with food stamps is not a long term solution to the obesity rates in this country.

 

Editorial policy is determined by the student editor, and views expressed in editorials are those of the majority of the Vidette’s Opinions Council. Columns that carry bylines are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Vidette or the university.

 

One Response

  1. American Beverage Association, ABA Communications

    We could not agree more with this editorial and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) on this topic, which advocates incentives over restrictions to promote healthy lifestyles. Education-based approaches that take this tack can help change behaviors, whereas restrictive regulations will fail. It should also be noted that numerous scientific studies have found no evidence such a restriction would reduce obesity by any measurable amount, including this research published in The American Journal of Agricultural Economics: http://ajae.oxfordjournals.org/.
    -American Beverage Association

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