Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Food Stamps contribute to poor nutrition

Last night Mari Gallagher presented her report, "Examining the Impact of Food Deserts on Public Health in Detroit," at a community meeting at the UM Detroit Center. The findings are alarming, especially with regard to the USDA Food Stamp program:

The greatest contributor to the heavy concentration of fringe food options and to the negative diet-related health effects of food imbalance is not fast food, as we originally suspected, but USDA Food Stamp retailers. In Detroit, USDA Food Stamp retailers are primarily fringe food locations, such as gas stations, liquor stores, party stores, dollar stores, bakeries, pharmacies, and convenience stores. Only 8% of all Detroit Food Stamp retailers are small, medium, or large grocery stores or supermarkets by our definition. These fringe locations appear not to specialize in healthy foods but, instead, in the sale of 1) alcohol, 2) tobacco, 3) lottery tickets, and/or 4) a comparatively small selection of prepackaged and canned food products high in salt, fat, and sugar.
Many Detroiters depends on Food Stamps for grocery money, but that money is primarily being spent at gas stations and liquor stores on prepackaged and canned foods. This in turn has a measurably negative effect on Detroiters' health. The program needs to be reformed so that all Food Stamp retailers provide healthy food options. As it is, 92% of the retailers who accept Food Stamps sell primarily junk food and little else.

1 comment:

motz said...

I work a large retailer that doesn't carry fresh food. We accept food stamps, and let me tell you that a lot of the people who use them spend the money on total crap, or even give the card to their 12 year old daughter to buy chips and pop. There is no stereotype to which you can tie these people, a large amount of the people I see coming through the lines purchase absolute crap foods.