Unlike our allies in the USA, Australia does not have a Food Stamp Program for the less fortunate and financially strapped members of our society. We do however have Centrelink payments which are supposedly scaled to fit your particular situation.
Today’s news is full of information about the recently discovered (sarc) link between obesity and sugar consumption. What truly surprised me was the story about how food stamps in the US can be used to purchase sugary sodas and other forms of sweetened beverages, and the estimated amount of Federal money that is splurged on these unhealthy items.
It is well understood that Federal Assistance is needed to help families obtain much-needed nutrition to survive. The program that handles the food stamps is known as SNAP.
SNAP is designed to offer financial assistance to low-income people and families to buy the food they need for good nutrition and health.
Researchers from the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity compiled data from a regional supermarket chain, then studied beverage purchases by households and families with a history of participation in federal nutrition assistance programs.
Researchers found that 58 percent of all refreshment beverages purchased by SNAP participants were for sugar-sweetened beverages such as regular soda, fruit drinks, and sports drinks. According to the researchers, SNAP benefits paid for 72 percent of these purchases.
“SNAP benefits are critically important in helping low-income families put food on the table, and in this economy, many American families could not feed their children without the federal food assistance provided by SNAP,” notes lead author, Tatiana Andreyeva, the Rudd Center’s director of economic initiatives.
“At the same time, the annual use of billions of dollars in SNAP benefits to purchase products at the core of public health concerns about obesity and chronic illnesses is misaligned with the goal of helping economically vulnerable families live active, healthy lives,” Andreyeva adds.
“Anti-hunger and public health advocates should work together to ensure that all government food assistance programs are implemented in a way that is consistent with helping Americans meet government dietary recommendations.”
As Led Zeppelin once said: and it makes you wonder doesn’t it just what the Centrelink assistance money is used to pay for in Australia? How much is spent on much-needed nutritional food items, and how much is spent on sugary items and soft drinks which are non-essential and non nutritional.
At least in the USA I don’t think you can use food stamps to purchase alcohol.
Guess I am just thinking out loud.
For cross-reference see my other posting at: