Really, you’ve heard that one before? Too bad the punchline isn’t stronger.
Why hasn’t “hunger” in America ended? If the government already spends billions of dollars ($182 billion) on food, how can it be logical that deprivation in America is the problem?
As the WSJ notes, the White House is ready to tackle the problem by rolling out a new strategy – its “National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition and Health. “
According to the strategy document, system changes are needed, including “Transformative programs, policies, and system changes are needed” says the strategy document, including improving “food access and affordability.” This certainly couldn’t have anything to do with getting the national attention away from soaring inflation?
Why Not Include College Students?
Toward that end, the White House promises to “work with Congress to expand access” to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as food stamps, and one idea is letting college students sign up.
Like welfare in general, food stamps were once intended as temporary help for people down on their luck. But over time the program has expanded to become a large and growing entitlement that breeds dependence on government but nonetheless hasn’t managed to solve “food insecurity.” Maybe dependency is the real problem.
We Need More SNAP
Go into our local Old Town Key West CVS, which most likely is not an anomaly, and you’ll be greeted by a bank of refrigeration units that hold an immense array of “food” stuffs, all loaded with omega-6s and high-fructose corn syrup. On every other door a sticker announces that these items–sweetened beverages, prepared desserts, salty snacks, etc.–are eligible for SNAP (food stamp) holders.
SNAP–the government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program–aim was intended to “permit low-income households to obtain a more nutritious diet.”
How’s that working? Well, “the lofty goals of federal programs often differ from the actual results. It turns out that about $15 billion of SNAP benefits are for junk food. Apparently, recipients are not making the nutritious and healthy choices that the government promised,” writes Chris Edwards, director of tax policy issues at the Cato Institute.
Food stamps can be used to buy just about any edible item in grocery stores other than alcohol, vitamins, and hot food. But exactly what is being purchased by the program’s 44 million recipients has been mainly shrouded in secrecy—until now.
A November study [read it below] by the U.S. Department of Agriculture finally shed light on food stamp purchases. The study examined detailed data for SNAP and non-SNAP shoppers for one large food retailer over a one-year period.
The study found that SNAP shoppers bought slightly more junk food than non-SNAP shoppers. … At the same time, SNAP shoppers spent relatively less on nutritious foods such as fruits and vegetables.
Not surprising to anyone paying even a modicum of attention, hunger is not the #1 health-care related food problem in the U.S. That bloated award goes to obesity as the biggest health risk, especially among people with low incomes. “In general, low-income Americans are suffering not from too little food, but from too much of the wrong kinds of food,” writes Mr. Edwards.
It is doubtful policymakers would ever mandate that food stamps be used only for fruits and veggies, but reform can happen. End federal involvement in food stamps, as Chris suggests, and allow states to decide whether taxpayers should subsidize cola, candy, crackers, and cookies.
Read more on SNAP here.
Failed Prior Efforts?
Francis Menton, aka the Manhattan Contrarian, harks back to “multiple prior government promises to end hunger in America, each of them followed by massive funding, and/or increases in prior already-massive levels of funding to achieve the goal. Are we only now learning that none of these prior efforts worked?”
If not, that would represent a huge failure of the government bureaucracies that had been charged with dealing with and solving this problem. Those same bureaucracies are still in place today, spending tens and even hundreds of billions of dollars annually and, if we are to believe President Biden, failing miserably in their prime responsibility of ending hunger. Shouldn’t those bureaucracies be held accountable for that failure?
How is it possible to spend the incredible sum of $182.5 billion in one year on food and nutrition programs in America without eliminating hunger, laments Mr. Menton. And now we are being told that “enormous generosity by the American people still did not fix the problem.”
Our Government at Work
So the White House will hold a new big conference, undoubtedly to give every advocate a platform to come and demand yet more and more spending
(O)ne potential answer can be found in the recent series at PowerLine about the Minnesota Feeding Our Future scandal. According to recent federal indictments, scammers in this one incident stole well over $200 million in federal food aid and used it mainly to buy luxury goods and real estate for themselves.
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