Fare choice

10/30/2013

SNAP should be limited to healthy food options.

SNAP should be limited to healthy food options.

The Landon Lecture at Kansas State University earlier this week, which brought six former secretaries of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the campus, reached some high notes and hit some low points as the distinguished guests talked about agriculture and food programs in this country.

Among all that was a suggestion from Mike Espy, who led the USDA for two years under President Bill Clinton, that many would shrug off but may warrant more discussion.

Espy said it would be reasonable to experiment with removing some of snack foods from the list of things that can be purchased through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamp program.

SNAP, Espy said, should be altered so recipients wouldn't be able to buy foods unacceptably high in calories, laden with salt, loaded with trans fats or packed with fructose corn syrup. Leaving aside the argument that sugar is sugar — whether it be fructose corn syrup or sugar refined from sugar beets or sugar cane — Espy makes a point that may not be politically correct but is worthy of consideration. ...

Isn't it reasonable to help people make good choices for themselves and their children that many won't make for themselves?

Yes, it smacks of a "Big Brother" scenario. But, in this case, isn't "Big Brother" actually the one paying for the food? And shouldn't "Big Brother" be interested in ensuring the food purchased through SNAP really is nutritious, rather than potentially harmful to the recipients' health? ...

Dan Glickman, a Kansan who served in the U.S. House of Representative and later as the head of USDA, agreed there should be consideration of removing foods that contribute to elevated health costs from government programs that deliver food to Americans.

It makes little sense to declare war on obesity through the national school lunch initiative, as the current administration has done, but show no concern about consumers purchasing high-calorie, low-nutrition foods through SNAP.

-- The Topeka Capital-Journal

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