Where do most Farm Bill allocations go? Approximately 76% of monies fund the Nutrition Title, which includes programs such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), formally known as food stamps. Note: the Farm Bill does NOT fund the National Schools Lunch Program.
- Courtesy of Congressional Research Service
Food stamps were first introduced in the U.S. near the end of the Depression. Distribution stopped in 1943 as WW II eliminated agricultural surplus and mass unemployment. They restarted in 1961 during the JF Kennedy administration. (pg. 50-56)
- courtesy of the National Museum of American History
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports “SNAP household income generally must be at or below 130 percent of the poverty line.” For three people that’s a monthly income of $2,495 or less ($29,940 annually). Households may have $2,750 in countable resources (such as cash or money in a bank account) or $4,250 in countable resources if at least one member of the household is age 60 or older or is disabled.
In most states, the maximum monthly benefit is $281 for one person and $939 for a family of four. Amounts are updated annually.
SNAP CAN buy:
• Fruits and vegetables
• Meat, poultry, and fish
• Dairy products
• Breads and cereals
• Snack foods and non-alcoholic beverages
• Seeds and plants that produce food
Snacks include cakes, pies, doughnuts, muffins, pastries, chips, crisps, popcorn, ice cream, candy, chocolate, custard, scones, churros, some energy drinks and much more.
SNAP CANNOT buy:
• Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, or tobacco
• Vitamins, medicines, and supplements.
• Most live animals
• Hot foods at the point of sale
• Nonfood items
One of the biggest challenges of the Farm Bill is to strike balance between a nutritional safety net for those in need and support for Americas farmers. Unfortunately, the system is failing. It has grown into a “get-big-or-get-out” agricultural model, (pg. 45) mostly benefiting mega-farms that overgrow wheat, corn and soy. End results make animal meats and junk food artificially cheap, Americans overeating foods that make us unwell and obese, and small farms outta' the picture. One would assume many Americans who live paycheck to paycheck (that’s 60% of us) stock their kitchens with this crap because it’s cheap calories that are filling. The American Institute of Cancer reports approximately 60% of Standard American Diet (SAD) calories come from these “affordable” ultra-processed foods propped up by the Farm Bill / our tax dollars.
- courtesy American Institute of Cancer
Food Fight writes that the longer an adult remains on SNAP, the greater their dependency on the program and the higher the chance they will become overweight and obese. Should SNAP benefits then be dis-allowed for snack and sugar-sweetened beverages? Some argue any elimination would be a “assault on personal dignity.”(pg 55)
I’ve been teaching people about healthy eating for over 30 years. Few have a firm command of how to eat a healthy, delicious diet, and confusing them more with lousy food handouts doesn't help. Americans average 2.7 servings of fruit and vegetables daily, while we need about 13 servings. Only 1 in 10 adults in the United States eat enough fruits and vegetables.
Subsidizing foods good for our health rather than bad, and teaching people how to use these foods (must add into the American populace) is no assault on personal dignity; it is a lifeline out of a lifetime of inflammation, pain, digestive problems, depression, obesity, metabolic disease and diabetes. No one is being "fed" by this food.
Something needs to change.
- Courtesy of Food Fight
This is post #3 from the Food Party! book review of Food Fight – A Citizens Guide to the Next Food and Farm Bill, by Dan Imhoff. Follow the discussion here:
1. Farm Bill. Not Sexy. Really Matters
2. Free Market Farm Bill or Farse?