SNAP & Soda: Who's Business is it Anyway?
Last month, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a plan to seek federal permission to bar the city's 1.7 million recipients of food stamp (now known as SNAP) benefits from purchasing sugar-sweetened beverages. The proposed ban would be for two years, with assessment to determine whether it should be made permanent. New York City's SNAP recipients spend an estimated $75 million to $135 million of their $2.7 billion in food stamps annually on soda, though this figure is contested by some advocates.
The controversial plan has surfaced differences in perspective between anti-hunger groups who believe food stamp recipients deserve the freedom to spend their benefits as they see fit, and public health advocates concerned about obesity, who see an opportunity to discourage consumption of high-calorie beverages that contribute to that problem
Both anti-hunger and public health groups want to see Americans - especially lower income Americans -- eat more and healthier food. Can common ground be found to achieve that broader goal? Does the New York City proposal present a hurdle to the health and hunger communities building a united front against a food system that has left many Americans both obese and undernourished? Can reasoned discussion create this united movement as Congress moves to reauthorize both the Child Nutrition Act and the next Farm Bill (which provides the authorization for SNAP)?
Presenters: Dr. Kelly Brownell, Director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale will be articulating a public health perspective on the issue; Joel Berg, Executive Director of the NYC Coalition against Hunger will provide an "on the ground" perspective in New York, and Ed Cooney, Executive Director of the Congressional Hunger Center will be giving a big picture view about how this municipal legislation could be a precursor to forthcoming Farm Bill debates.