Fast food giant Yum! Brands which owns KFC, Taco Bell and more is lobbying Kentucky’s governor to allow food stamp users to buy fast food.
Currently Kentucky’s Food Assistance Program provides money to those in need to buy food — but that does not include fast food.
Yum! says the elderly, disabled, and homeless should be able to use food stamps to buy hot meals, especially those unable to cook. But members of the African-American Think Tank disagree, as Rev. Gerome Sutton explains: “What that will ultimately do is, it will affect the health and well-being of our community and drive up the cost of health care for the state.”
Federal rules generally prohibit food stamp benefits, which are distributed under the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), from being exchanged for prepared foods. Yet a provision dating to the 1970s allows states to allow restaurants to serve disabled, elderly and homeless people, USDA spokeswoman Jean Daniel said.
Between 2005 and 2010, the number of businesses certified in the SNAP program went from about 156,000 to nearly 209,000, according to USDA data.
There is big money at stake. USDA records show food stamp benefits swelled from $28.5 billion to $64.7billion in that period.
Four states accept restaurants, with Florida the most recent to begin a program.
“It makes perfect sense to expand a program that’s working well in California, Arizona and Michigan, enabling the homeless, elderly and disabled to purchase prepared meals with SNAP benefits in a restaurant environment,” Yum! spokesman Jonathan Blum said.
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