GMA continues to oppose legislative proposals that restrict consumer choice and advocate for a uniform federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Policy (SNAP) program.
The SNAP/Food Stamp Program is the largest nutrition assistance program administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), with over 46.2 million Americans receiving SNAP benefits in October 2011.
Recently, Congress as well as several state legislatures, has proposed legislation that would restrict the use of SNAP benefits to purchase foods with limited nutritional value. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the FRESH (Fresh Regional Eating for Schools and Health) Act in December 2011 that would ensure federal nutrition spending will help promote healthier eating and increase consumption of fruits and vegetables while helping local agriculture. Though GMA applauds the Senator for this initiative, it encourages the removal of provisions in the final bill that include providing flexibility for state waivers and an itemized receipt of products from corporations that receive more than $1 million a year from SNAP.
“As an industry, we believe proposals to limit consumer purchases will be very costly, very complicated, and will not help reduce obesity rates,” said William Tatum, Senior Manager of Health and Nutrition Policy at GMA.
With the introduction of more than 30,000 new products in the marketplace every year and limited retailer technology, updating and following the prohibited lists will become a costly, time-consuming burden on both retailers and manufacturers. These factors combined with the lack of scientific basis to create a list of “good” foods and “bad” foods make a prohibited items list too complicated and contradictory of the “whole-diet approach” of USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
GMA believes incentives – rather than restrictions – that encourage purchases of certain foods or expanded nutrition education to enable participants to make healthy choices are more practical options and likely to be more effective in achieving the dietary improvements that promote good health.