USDA Refuses to Release Food Stamp Profits Details
Unlike those in charge of other federal programs that spend billions of taxpayer dollars each year helping Americans, officials overseeing food stamps have refused to release details on who benefits financially from this assistance.
Currently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not make public how much money individual retailers make from food stamps, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Nor does the USDA disclose which products are purchased with SNAP dollars or how much is spent on each product.
In 2011, Tulsa World found that nearly half ($506 million out of $1.2 billion) of all food stamp expenditures between July 2009 and March 2011 went to Walmart Stores, according to data supplied by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
The Association of Health Care Journalists and six other media and open-government groups asked Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a letter to change the USDA’s policy regarding food stamps information.
“We have yet to hear a good reason for this secrecy,” the letter states. “And we believe it is simply wrong to withhold basic information about a multibillion-dollar program from the people who pay for it.”
The coalition argues that more transparency could demonstrate which businesses benefit from SNAP and inform public policy debates about obesity and its causes.
They also note that Medicare and Medicaid reveal plenty about their costly programs, and that the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families discloses where recipients used their EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) cards to withdraw cash assistance.
To Learn More:
Journalists Call On USDA To Release Food Stamp Information (by Felice J. Freyer and Irene Wielawski, Association of Healthcare Journalists)
Food Stamps: Follow the Money (by Michele Simon, Eat Drink Politics) (pdf)
Which Corporations Profit from Food Stamps? (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Vicki Baker, AllGov)
Should Restaurants be Allowed to Accept Food Stamps? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Food Stamps Equal Big Money (by Ginnie Graham and Gavin Off, Tulsa World)
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