David P. Smith: The Broken SNAP – Part 2
Thursday, January 24, 2013 9:05 AM

While there is plenty of evidence of illegal trafficking of EBT (electronic benefit transfer) cards (the new food stamps) along with other fraud, there is other waste occurring in this program that is supposed to be helping the poor who are truly deprived of the ability to buy food. I can remember when it was embarrassing to have to get something free from the government during the days of “commodities” that certainly were not what we think of today when that term is used. People were given staple foods that were truly needed and not allowed to choose such extravagant food items that the people who earned the money and paid the taxes can hardly afford themselves. If one needs a lesson on this, just visit your grocery store around the first week of the month and notice how many buggy loads of expensive meats are being purchased that many times are then sold for cash to others. Another local example of abuse is an $800 wedding cake that was purchased on an EBT card – give me a break! The person who sold this while accepting taxpayer money and the person who bought it should be ashamed of themselves. At the rate of inflation for groceries, it won't be long before greater numbers forget hoping to get a break – give me a SNAP card! It appears that there is no shame in taking from others anymore and, for many, it's not improving their health, but worsening it. 


Looking at the health of the foods being bought with SNAP funds, the public should have an interest in promoting healthy eating habits among those using the public's money to buy their food. There are educational programs in place for those interested in improving their health through what foods they buy and this should continue to be promoted. While there are attempts to educate people in regard to what they should be eating, many already know this information and still choose to eat in unhealthy ways. There should be some changes made in regard to how the money given to people on EBT cards is allowed to be spent so that healthy choices are encouraged in a more direct manner. Junk food (we all know what that is), candy, gum, and expensive cuts of meat are a great place to begin with trying to get control over this rampantly growing entitlement that is looked at by too many as a way of life rather than a temporary need. 


A program to provide nutritional assistance should provide nutritionally beneficial food and not items that will worsen the health of those who need help; then, there are the resultant medical problems that will cost even more money. We currently have in place a system that allows for food items to be bought that worsen health and then that person whose health has declined still cannot get ahead, while then needing another government program to pay all of their medical bills. All of this is financially good for the food makers, grocery stores who sell the food, banks who process the cards, and then ultimately the healthcare providers and hospitals to treat the greater and greater numbers of those in ill health; however, it's not good for the person who has made unhealthy choices nor is it good for the increasingly burdened taxpayers. This program needs to be reworked and it's original mission kept in focus to allow for financial help for those who really need nutritional assistance, allowances for only healthy food choices, and increased accountability of those accepting payments from the cards.