Sometimes the nanny state not so bad: USDA to ban ordering takeout pizza with food stamps
From my largest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum:
I hate the nanny state, too–but free takeout pizza on my tax dime?
“New federal regulations intended to promote healthy eating could make it harder to use food stamps at convenience stores – a change that opponents say will leave disadvantaged people with fewer places to buy groceries.
“The standards proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture would require retailers that accept food stamps to stock more and fresher varieties of food. But many convenience stores won’t be able to meet the requirements and will be forced from the the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as SNAP, or food stamps, critics say.”
So, on the one hand:
Why should the government be able to tell poor people where they can shop and what foods they can buy?
On the other hand:
Why shouldn’t the government be able to tell people where they can shop and what foods they can buy using money supplied by us taxpayers?
This is the dilemma. Yes, we all hate the Obama administration’s obesity-obsessed Nutrition Nanny State that won’t even let schools hold bake sales to fund the marching band without conforming to strict limits.
Now, many convenience stores are small family-owned businesses–although others are part of big chains like 7-Eleven. And, as the USDA has pointed out:
“Some of these retailers operate primarily as restaurants, not retail food stores. Nothing in current regulations specifically prohibits items sold for SNAP benefits that are cold at the point-of-sale from being heated or cooked in the store after purchase. Further, current rules allow foods to be classified as staple or non-staple by their first ingredient; therefore some pizza restaurants, for example, have been deemed eligible with pizza as the qualifying staple food based on the primary ingredient (bread). After selling a cold pizza to SNAP customers, these firms subsequently heat the pizza and then have ultimately sold hot food from their pizza-restaurant location.”
Since the point of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is to enable the poor to purchase food to cook at home, not to enable the poor to order takeout pizza, there does seem to a point in tightening the rules. The SNAP program is supposed to be an anti-hunger program, not a let’s-eat-out-tonight program.