This is some messed-up logic. Seriously messed up. Let’s do a thought experiment and take food stamps away from poor people who are currently using them to buy cheap, processed foods. Is there a scenario in which those people buy more expensive, healthier food, having lost the benefits that are currently providing much of their food budgets? The reason people are relying on cheap, processed foods is not that people’s food budgets are coming from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programheaven knows it’s not like it’s a program requirement that benefits be spent on junk foodit’s that they are poor. Maybe they live in food deserts. Maybe they don’t have the kitchen facilities to keep or cook fresh foodsone woman portrayed in the story doesn’t have a fridge. But whatever you can say about the diets of food stamp recipients, poverty, not food stamps, is the starting point. Take SNAP away and maybe people eat fewer hot Cheetos, but fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats don’t magically appear on their plates. But now the question has been asked, not by the Heritage Foundation or similar but by a major newspaper: Is there evidence that SNAP causes obesity ? The short answer is: not if you care about your evidence being good. For a longer answer, let’s go below the fold. The Food Research and Action Center has looked at many studies of SNAP participation and obesity, finding that the most valid ones say no, SNAP participation does not lead to obesity . Among the studies with this finding: Based on a study of 772 low-income families from a national sample, food insecure girls participating in the school lunch, school breakfast, or SNAP programs (or all three programs combined) have a lower risk of overweight compared to food insecure girls from non-participating households.
Stateline When you think of Oregon and food, you probably think organic chicken, kale chips and other signs of a strong local food movement. What probably doesn’t come to mind? Food stamps. And yet, 21 percent of Oregon’s population that’s one out of every five residents relies on food stamps to get by. And like many people across the country, these Oregon families who have come to rely on federal food assistance program for meals are learning to make due with less as of this month. That’s one of the surprising statistics brought out by Stateline’s interactive food stamps map , which tracks how each state is being affected by cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program that went into effect on Nov. 1. The program, which helps feed 47 million Americans, saw $5 billion in reductions when a temporary boost in benefits enacted as part of the federal stimulus package expired. In the past few weeks, media outlets have told compelling, sometimes heartbreaking stories of families who rely on food stamps forced to make even harder choices buying less milk for the kids, eschewing meat purchases as too pricey. Interestingly, Stateline’s map shows how cold, hard numbers can also serve to humanize the problem. For instance, as the map shows, in Oregon, 304,000 kids and 159,000 elderly people and those with disabilities have seen their benefits cut.
See How Food Stamp Cuts Are Hitting Across The U.S.
At Manna Food Center in Montgomery County, Development Director Mark Foraker said the average number of households served each month has jumped over the past five years from about 2,000 to 3,600. According to the Food Research and Action Center in the District, rates of severe obesity are 1.7 times as high among poor children and adolescents. The Capital Area Food Bank began incorporating recipe testing more than a year ago. Chefs would come in and train volunteers and families how to cook unusual donated items, such as venison. Now the testing is focused on preparing tasty meals that are low in calories and sodium and high in protein from ordinary food items: canned vegetables, beans, taco shells, roasted chicken. Each month, Cam Henry, a staff member at the food bank, plucks out a list of those items and sends them to Sherwood. Sherwood examines the list, then brainstorms sample dishes. On Friday, these included curry chicken wraps, succotash, lemon pasta and collard greens. Henry insisted that everyone follow the recipes precisely to make sure they were not too time-consuming, complicated or bland. Arvis Powell, a volunteer at the food mission at Brighter Day Ministries in Southeast, took issue with the first step in a recipe for collard greens and potatoes. Chop collard greens? Powell said. She then explained to the chef that this idea might not be culturally conscious. In my home, we never chopped collard greens, we pull them. Sherwood said shed edit the recipe.