As I was looking at the daily research headlines from Reuters health news I noticed this headline: "USA becomes Food Stamp Nation but is it sustainable? " And I thought I wanted to write about it. The article talks about the increasing number of people that are working but still are not making enough money to support themselves and their families. As a result of this situation they are having to turn to government assistance and use food stamps, which as been renamed Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) in 2008.
According to the article there are 46 million Americans that are relying on SNAP assistance, approximately 15 percent of the population. This is a 74 percent increase since 2007. In addition, the demographics of those who use SNAP have changed increasingly. More of the people on the program are people that are working but don’t make enough to feed themselves or their families.
What intrigued me enough about so many Americans turning to government assistance for food to write about it? As you know, I believe that food and nutrition are the foundation of health. If people are now using government assistance in order to eat, I wanted to look at how they could best spend those dollars to continue to use food as medicine for their health.
Whenever I go out and talk about healthy eating and healthy living I get comments about how to do this on a budget. People see eating healthy as an expensive endeavor so they don’t believe that eating healthy can be possible, especially for people whose food budgets are being subsidized by the government. I thought it would be helpful to highlight information programs that are being created to allow those on the SNAP program to have access to healthy food.
In Philadelphia, The Food Trust and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health have launched a program call Philly Food Bucks where people receive two dollars in Philly Food Bucks for every five dollars they spend in SNAP dollars at participating farmers markets. This allows people in SNAP dollars to have access to fresh nutritious foods and get a subsidy at the same time.