Restricted SNAP Items?

The Lempert Report
July 21, 2023

Marco Rubio, without getting very political, is urging Congress to restrict SNAP benefits for junk food purchases. The reality is that 65% of SNAP recipients who are between the age of 50 and 64 are diagnosed with diet-related disorders. He has introduced the Health SNAP Act where you cannot buy, currently with SNAP, you can't buy alcohol, cigarettes, vitamins. Now he wants to go a step further to eliminate sugary treats as well as a lot of other foods that sweetened beverages, desserts, salty snacks, candy and sugar. He argues that it now costs taxpayers more than $204 billion over the next decade if we don't do this. And there's a conservatives think tank called American Enterprise Institute who found that 65% of adults on SNAP program, age 50 through 64, not only have been diagnosed with a diet related disorder, as I said, and 42% are obese. So what do we think? Do we think that Marco Rubio's plan is going to work and it's something good for us.

Sally: Well, it's an interesting concept, you know, because we do know that we have a problem with obesity and diet related illnesses. There are a couple of holes in this plan, one being that the research they're citing does show that, you know, the age range 50 to 64 has a higher incidence of obesity and buying these products. But, however, according to the Economic Research Service at the USDA, that there hasn't been a study that correlates between a higher incidence of obesity overall with SNAP recipients in all ages. So we don't really have that research to show. However, you know, wanting to limit the intake of these sugary drinks and sweets and ultra processed foods is something that we all would really love to do. The problem is how to regulate that, how to choose which products can be a part of that program and which ones aren't. And then we're looking at our cashiers playing food police, you know, and being in that situation where somebody brings a sugary cereal, let's say, for example, and wants to buy it, and then the cashier in the line right there has to say you can't have this because it doesn't fall under the SNAP requirements. So there are a lot of holes in this plan and a lot of Americans, i also believe that they would like to have that choice with what kinds of foods they buy.

Phil: Absolutely And to your point, putting cashiers or any workers in the supermarket at risk for getting into arguments with customers just doesn't make it.