According to a new report from The United States Department of Agriculture, sugary soft drinks are the number one purchase made by those on the government-funded SNAP food stamp program.
The report, located here, indicates that 10% of all food stamp purchases goes towards soft drinks.
As NYU nutrition professor Marion Nestle said to The New York Times, “in this sense, SNAP is a multibillion-dollar taxpayer subsidy of the soda industry.”
It’s not just the soda industry raking in big bucks thanks to SNAP, though; the junk food market in general is doing pretty well for itself.
According to the USDA report, in addition to spending 10% of food stamp funds on soft drinks, eligible Americans spend another 10% on “desserts, salty snacks, candy and sugar.”
What’s more, the report states that households which rely on SNAP spend slightly more of grocery money on junk food.
In light of these findings, some – like Tennessee lawmaker Sheila Butt – have filed bills that aim to restrict SNAP users from purchasing junk food with their subsidies.
This, of course, has been an ongoing debate across America, one which junk food companies have spent millions on trying to swing in their direction.
The USDA, meanwhile, has been opposed to tighter regulations on SNAP usage, saying it would be unfair.
To this, Dr. David Ludwig of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital argues, “no one is suggesting poor people can’t choose what they want to eat. But we’re saying let’s not use government benefits to pay for foods that are demonstrably going to undermine public health.”