Food stamps should not go to junk food

Vermont is attempting to shed some pounds by proposing Resolution JRH13 – a piece of legislation that would not allow users of food stamps to purchase junk food.

For those who think Resolution JRH13 infringes on the liberties of the less fortunate, consider this: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one out of five people in the state of Vermont were listed as obese in a 2009 survey.

Another series of surveys conducted by the Public Library of Science rated obesity as the second cause of preventable death in America after tobacco use. This investigation also noted that obesity was an even more prevalent cause of death than alcohol abuse.

This is partially because of food stamp restrictions on purchasing alcohol. So why can’t the same philosophy be applied to other unhealthy substances?

The brutal reality of the situation is that beggars can’t be choosers. In 1962 the government generously established food stamps to nourish the less fortunate, and I’m pretty sure items like donuts and potato chips were not driving factors in setting up the program. The government has every right to specify how their handouts are used.

Healthy staples are often cheaper than junk food, yet people who don’t want to spend time turning fruits and vegetables into tasty nutritious meals tend to steer clear of these items. The convenience of quickly unwrapping a Little Debbie may save someone time in the kitchen, but it definitely takes a toll on that person’s health.

It also weighs heavily on Vermont’s taxpayers who fund the long-term healthcare costs of the obese. By implementing JRH13, the money saved in weight-related healthcare costs could be used to fund other things like education.

Ideally, everyone should be responsible enough to make smart decisions at the grocery store, but the reality is we live in a culture that promotes heavy consumption of unhealthy foods. The lives of many American citizens are in jeopardy because of this.

When the government wants to healthily influence the public starting with the lower classes, suddenly the freedom to eat oneself into the grave is more important than that individual’s wellbeing. JRH13 is not an attack on liberty; it is a helpful step in a nutritious direction, and will hopefully raise national awareness about America’s heavy burden.

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Food stamps should not go to junk food