A recent USDA report shows families that use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, also referred to as SNAP or Food Stamps, purchase more junk food than the general population.
The report, which analyzed spending at a major grocery chain over a year-long period, concluded that while the spending habits of those on SNAP benefits were similar to that of the general public, SNAP recipients tended to spend more on soft drinks, including soda, energy drinks and sweetened teas.
In fact, it was the number one commodity among SNAP households, the report found.
It’s a point of concern for public health experts like Case Western Reserve University Social Sciences researcher Rob Fischer.
Fischer said poor communities needed better access to farmers markets and full service grocery stores, as opposed to more prevalent convenience stores that offer less variety.
Lawmakers in several states have proposed putting limits on the use of SNAP benefits for junk food, but Fischer said something like that would be hard to enforce.
“It sounds easy enough,” he said, "I think the thing we need to remember is the burden falls on the stores.”