taking big soda out of snap

The Bipartisan Policy Center's recently released report "Leading with Nutrition" provides a compelling blueprint for enhancing SNAP's nutrition purpose. Its core recommendations include:

  • Eliminating sugar sweetened beverages from the program
  • Establishing dietary quality as a core objective of SNAP
  • Incentivizing fruits and vegetables
  • Authorizing USDA to collect store-level data on SNAP expenditures
  • Strengthening retailer standards
  • Strengthening SNAP-Ed

The hunger and industry lobbying groups have opposed the recommendations in this report. 

Food Research and Action Center: "Restrictions... stigmatiz[e] beneficiaries and throw[ing] sand in the gears of this very successful program."

The American Beverage Association: "While we disagree with this report's recommendations on beverages, America's beverage companies recognize we have a role to play in improving public health. That's why we remain committed to comprehensive actions to help cut sugar consumption in the American diet by ensuring consumers have a broad portfolio of products to choose from."

In "Soda Politics" Marion Nestle and in Big Hunger, we both document how the soda industry and the food industry are key funders of the Food Research Action Center (FRAC).  One key way in which this happens is through FRAC's annual gala, sponsored by dozens of food industry heavyweights. Check out the program from the 2017 event below to see how FRAC's Big Gulp cup runneth over with toxic charity. 

FRAC sponsors 2017.jpg

The unholy alliance with the food industry has been key to protecting SNAP in the latest Farm Bill. Yet, I can not stop wondering: is protecting the status quo the best we can do as a movement: to ensure the slow death of the impoverished through diabetes in order to avert their immediate starvation? Do we not have a bolder vision and goals we are seeking to implement?  Are we complicit as a movement in these public health crises?