Opinion Brief

Should food stamps be redeemable at Taco Bell?

Fast-food chains are lobbying the government for permission to accept food stamps. Not on your life, say anti-obesity advocates

With government-issued food-stamp benefits more than doubling — to $64.7 billion — between 2005 and 2010, more and more businesses are trying to get in on the action. Outside of a few states, restaurants traditionally have been excluded. But now Yum! Brands, owner of Taco Bell, KFC, Long John Silver's, and Pizza Hut, is lobbying for permission to let people use food stamps at its fast-food outlets. While, anti-hunger advocates like the idea, anti-obesity activists deplore it. Should the 45 million Americans who receive food stamps be allowed to spend them on fast food?

Obviously not: This "horrible idea" is a "public health disaster" in the making, says Kim Conte at The Stir. By encouraging low-income Americans to eat unhealthy food, the government would essentially be subsidizing obesity and spending important funds inefficiently: "Prepared restaurant food costs a lot more money (and food stamps)" than staples such as beans, fruits, vegetables, and rice.
"Should the government pay for us to eat fast food?"

For those who can't cook, this would be a godsend: There's no denying that fast food, with its high fat, salt, and sugar content, isn't the most nutritious fare around, says Sam Taxy at Care2. But more states should take advantage of an exception in federal rules, and let homeless or elderly people who can't cook at home buy restaurant food. Let's take this opportunity to be sure that these hungry people aren't falling through the cracks.
"Fast-food chains lobby states for food stamp allowances"

The only question should be whether it helps people in need: In these hard times, more and more Americans are "teetering off the edge of the lower-middle class and into destitution," says The Inquisitr. And while we grant bailouts to billionaires, some people still "nitpick" about what little we spend helping the poor. Let's not wring our hands over the fact that some people would rather spend food stamps on fried fish or chicken than something they could cook at home. Let's just make sure they don't go hungry.
"Food stamps at restaurants: Should low-income users have the option?"

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