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The assault on food stamps is misguided

from Washington Monthly

Recently in Arkansas, the state House of Representatives passed a bill that would ban the use of federal food stamps to purchase food with "insufficient nutritional value." The sponsor of the bill, State Rep. Mary Bentley, argued that "I want the kids in our state to have sippy cups that are full of good, fresh milk from Arkansas dairies and fruit juice and not Mountain Dew and Pepsi." This justification echoes the narrative of a recent front-page story in the New York Times, provocatively titled "In the Shopping Cart of a Food Stamp Household: Lots of Soda." The claim? That families receiving benefits under the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) spend more money on soft drinks than anything else. Illustrating the article was a photograph of a shopping cart filled with nothing but cases of soda. There was a problem, however, with this tidy narrative. The report on which this article was purportedly based actually found that there are no major differences between the grocery purchases of SNAP households and other consumers. more

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