By Jeremiah Smith
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), administered by the USDA, helps low-income individuals and families put food on the table. It is commonly and historically known as the Food Stamp Program. The new name was adopted following enactment of the 2008 Farm Bill, which brought many new changes including expanded coverage and funding to promote nutrition. In an attempt to help improve eating habits and combat the obesity epidemic, SNAP has created incentives for the purchase of nutritious foods. A number of nonprofit groups are participating in this effort to offer such incentives at the point-of-sale.
One of these groups is the Wholesome Wave Foundation, whose mission is to make locally grown, sustainable foods available to all communities. Their “Double Value Coupon Program” doubles the value of food stamps used at participating farmers’ markets. This program increases access to affordable, healthy food in low-income areas that need it most. It also supports local farming and reduces “food miles” traveled, which benefits the environment.
Perhaps the most common argument against the use of food assistance programs to promote healthful eating has been that needy people should not have their food choices restricted to certain products. However, this program does not include any restrictions. Its goal is to empower individuals to make healthier choices, not to limit their choices.
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