Food stamps for fast food?

By: Mario Boone Email
By: Mario Boone Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- For years food stamps have fed millions of hungry Americans. But the program has strict limits. Namely, what recipients can buy and where. "If it wasn't for having food stamps and EBT we probably wouldn't be able to eat," said one recipient.

Nearly every state limits purchases to uncooked food at grocery stores. But the fast food industry wants federal law changed to include many of your favorite restaurants. "I don't think you should be able to get fast food off of food stamps," said Shane Beasley.

The EBT program pumps billions of dollars into the economy. Money the fast food industry wants a slice of. "Going to a fast food place would only give you that meal just that one time and may not be quite as healthy," said Courtney Niemann of Second Harvest Food Bank. But John Bell sees an upside. "Anything that increases access to food, that would be positive," he said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture funds the EBT program. "To broaden it beyond this would require a change in law by congress," said Jean Daniel of USDA. So far no official legislation has been filed to loosen food stamp rules.

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  • by karen Location: nashville tennessee on Sep 23, 2011 at 09:04 PM
    i don't think they should be able to go to restaurants on ebt cards. i work 40 hours a week and can't afford to do it very much. I work in a grocery store and see the abuse that the food stamp program is getting. People buying energy drinks and using them to get a hush off of them. then tell their kids that they can't have a candy bar. It makes me mad.
  • by deborah Location: tennessee on Sep 14, 2011 at 07:25 AM
    i think that the resturant option is great!!!!! that would help the homeless get a hot meal!!!! hope that they pass it
  • by jean Location: washington, dc on Sep 13, 2011 at 04:30 AM
    The restaurant program is an option for States and is limited to participants who are elderly, disable or homeless. States are encouraged to include a broad array of restaurants so participants can choose a wide array of foods.
  • by Kimber Location: Knoxville on Sep 12, 2011 at 08:36 PM
    This would be a big no no in my book.. There are several people out there who need these benefits but can't qualify because of being a few hundred dollars over the income limit. Not to mention they base that of gross not net pay. There for anything coming out of your pay check ( medical insurance... extra) unable you to get any help. Knowing from experience as a mother of 2 with one on the way and the only income is my husbands. We make it but barley and a benefit like this would help a lot. But instead we have people who want fast food to be covered by food stamps and also abuse the system. That's why DRUG Test should be one of the qualifications!
  • by Robert Location: Oneida on Sep 12, 2011 at 06:15 PM
    No way. The extra cost of fast food would lower the amount and quality of food a family would be able to buy.
  • by Justin Location: Campbell County on Sep 12, 2011 at 06:07 PM
    I hope this does not get approved! But you know how the government is Now? ? If anything they need to have mandatory drug screen for everyone receving government assistants.
  • by Mary Location: Missouri on Sep 12, 2011 at 05:57 PM
    THIS A DIRECT COPY OF THE VERY FIRST PART OF THE FOOD STAMP PROGRAM RULES AND REGULATIONS AND PURPOSE: (a) Purpose of the food stamp program. The food stamp program is designed to promote the general welfare and to safeguard the health and well being of the Nation's population by raising the levels of nutrition among low-income households. Section 2 of the Food Stamp Act of 1977 Seriously.....Is Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, & McDonald's going to "raise the level of nutrition" for ANYBODY? NO. Contact your elected officials about the atrocities of this already tragically abused program to not only refuse to let this pass, but to also BAN any foods such as sodas, candy, or chips from being purchased with food stamps.
  • by Teresa Location: Knoxville on Sep 12, 2011 at 04:39 PM
    I totally agree that you should not be able to purchase cooked food items. If this is allowed, many children will go hungry before the end of the month due to the outrageous price of prepared foods and fast food. This would eat up their food stamps faster than ever. If the federal/state government is providing your household with this opportunity to feed you and your children, then they should regulate what can be purchased with them. If your income is limited enough to qualify for them, then you really should be preparing meals at home at less expense. Going out to eat is a privilege and should not be made available by the government. That is something you deserve by working to afford the privilege.
  • by Paulette on Sep 12, 2011 at 04:25 PM
    Seriously? My husband and I work all week long & look forward to the eatting out once over the weekend as a treat. Our government programs are making Americans more lazy & over weight. Gets on my nerves.
  • by Bob Location: Knox on Sep 12, 2011 at 03:53 PM
    No way--because food stamps are meant for people who cannot purchase all the food they need. When the rest of us are short on food money, we go to the store. Allowing recipients to do this will just ensure they run out of food mid-month.
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