One can buy junk food and soda with tax payer money? Watching this first hand the other day really gave me a shock, this sure does seem pretty sad, huh? Social welfare programs like government paid for food, housing, and medical care are obviously a very big partisan issue lately, and in many respects are at the heart of the "raise taxes vs. cut spending" budget debate going on right now with the Federal government. As a liberal, I believe that the people that can afford it (like myself) should help support those who can't. Yes, I know there is abuse and the system in place is not perfect, but when push comes to shove I'd rather know that I'm helping those that truly need it (unfortunately alongside those that likely don't) instead of just leaving everyone out to dry.
With that said, and knowing I'm a supporter of welfare programs, I was very disappointed the other day when I watched this purchase that indirectly used my money. It just killed me to learn that this was allowed. It would be great to see the various welfare programs working a little more collaboratively. If you cut publicly paid for junk food, you will cut health care expenses in the long term: I really think it is that simple.
Welfare programs should pay for what people need, not what people want, and if those using food stamps want junk food they will either do without or find another way to pay for it. For example, public money should pay for programs such as the "Boston Bounty Bucks" (details), which is a program sponsored by the non-profit "The Food Project" and the City of Boston to allow discounts at Farmer's Markets for those paying with food stamp programs.
In case you were curious what is or is not offered as guidance, below is what the official website says (here for details):
You can buy any food item except food that is hot when you buy it, or food that is sold to be eaten in the store like restaurant food. Eligible food items include:
- any food products or ingredients used to prepare meals at home
- cold prepared sandwiches, salads, and other deli items
- ethnic and health foods
- snack foods, candy, soda, and ice