Now, I’ve discussed food stamps on this site – and probably will continue to do so – because it is an interesting intersection of necessity and societal judgment. Considering the number of people who legitimately complain that their perception of the cost of “healthy food” is out of their financial reach, the fear of societal judgment prevents them from ever considering food stamps… and “enough food” – as defined by Satter’s hierarchy of food needs – becomes acceptable.
That being said… check out what’s happening in Kentucky:
The Louisville-based fast food giant Yum! Brands Inc. is lobbying the Beshear administration to make Kentucky one of only a handful of states that allow food stamps to be used at restaurants by certain groups of recipients.Under the federal food-stamp program, states may authorize that use by the elderly, disabled or homeless, who often have difficulty preparing meals. Only Michigan, Arizona and parts of California have done so.
Last month, Yum!, which owns the KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell chains, registered for the first time to lobby the executive branch in Frankfort.
One of its top executives has helped raise money for Gov. Steve Beshear’s re-election campaign. And the company has presented the idea to officials of groups ranging from the Kentucky Restaurant Association and the Louisville Urban League, who have written letters of support to Beshear.
“We think it’s a win-win,” said Paul Carothers, the company’s vice president for government affairs. “It’s obviously of interest from a business standpoint, and it provides access to the elderly homeless and disabled who are often underserved.”
He said he didn’t know how much Yum! would likely make if Kentucky adopts the policy.
“We haven’t tried to compute that,” he said.
The Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which administers the food-stamp program in Kentucky, declined to discuss any possible policy changes.
The cabinet released a one-sentence statement: “There have been some inquiries made regarding Kentucky; however, no decisions have been made at this point.”
The Courier-Journal filed a request under the Kentucky Open Records Act seeking copies of correspondence from groups urging the policy change, along with other cabinet records related to the issue.
The cabinet denied the request on grounds that any such records would be “preliminary” and thus exempt from release.
The possible policy change raised questions and concerns among state officials and health advocates.
Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, said he recognized the advantage of prepared meals for beneficiaries who are elderly, disabled or homeless.
“My concern is that so much of that food is the most unhealthy food in America … and it leads to obesity and all kinds of other health problems,” he said.Susan Zepeda, president of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, noted that any such policy change would come at a time when funding for programs like Meals on Wheels is being reduced.
But she said she is concerned about the nutritional value of many restaurant meals.
“Participating sites should be required to post at least the caloric value of foods available, with additional nutrient information — similar to what you would find on packed foods in grocery stores — readily available,” Zepeda said.
Rep. Jim DeCesare, R-Bowling Green, had a different concern.
“I’m afraid in the long run the people we’re trying to serve are going to be short-changed on the amount of food they can get because it’s more expensive to buy prepared food,” he said.
The federal food-stamp program was established on a permanent basis in 1964, providing benefits to households with net incomes under the federal poverty level, which is now $22,056 for a family of four.The Cabinet for Health and Family Services said about 814,000 Kentuckians participate in the program. It was unable to say what percentage of beneficiaries are elderly, disabled or homeless.
So, I’m wondering – does your state allow fast food purchases on food stamps? What do you think?