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There are hundreds of debates related to food stamp benefits and beneficiaries who receive food stamps. One of the most controversial debates related to food stamp beneficiaries, is junk food. The junk food debate has been discussed in areas outside of the food stamp program. In fact, in New York City one of the biggest news headlines has been the attempted reduction of large sodas being sold due to their high sugar content. The debate, as it relates to the things that beneficiary program, revolves around the nutrition level available for beneficiaries.

What Is the Junk Food Debate?

The junk food debate, as it relates to food stamp beneficiaries, is the belief that parents who are beneficiaries of the food stamp program purchase nutritionally depleted junk food rather than high nutrition items. Cookies, candies, breads, processed foods and other items are common purchases for food stamp beneficiaries. This is especially of true food stamp beneficiaries with larger families. The debate centers on these particular purchases, and states that junk food should not be an item available for purchase for foods that beneficiaries.

Why Is so Much Junk Food Purchased?

Why so much junk food is purchased is at the center of the junk food and food stamp debate. There have been several studies regarding this. Each study shows that junk food, processed foods, boxed foods and other high carb or high sugar foods tend to be less expensive. For example, a family of four or more may find that meals consisting of Ramen noodles and canned vegetables is much cheaper than healthier food options. This is especially true when you consider items such as Ramen noodles can be purchased in bulk for less than five dollars. This makes several meals for the week, and makes the tight budget many families are under on food stamps stretch longer.

What Is the Answer People Are Looking for?

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a straight line answer for the junk food and food stamp debate. There are several proponents of nutritional eating that would like to see standardized meal options, menu options or food options placed on food stamps. This would mean that food stamps would run similarly to WIC, in that there would only be certain foods that would be allowed in these foods would be strictly mandated. The problem with this answer to the junk food debate, is the implementation of a program which would regulate what beneficiaries could or could not purchase.

Guidelines for food stamp beneficiaries leads to an issue of freedom of choice, pricing, cost of living and other issues. For example, the standardized amount of money a family of three is allowed on food stamps is around $500 a month. This does fluctuate depending on the state and the state guidelines. However, in many cases that amount of money may not stretch that much depending on the cost of living in that area. Where a beneficiary may be able to purchase a full month supply of food for three on that amount, other areas of the country may not be so lucky. By limiting the amount of food or types of food that a beneficiary may receive, there may be long-standing complications which would make the nutrition and even higher issue than it is now. This junk food debate and beneficiary food rights continues to play out even in budget cut discussions where a solution such as stricter guidelines would reduce the amount of money paid to the food stamp program.

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