House Agriculture Committee Considers Pros and Cons to Restricting SNAP Purchases
Today, the House Agriculture Committee held a hearing to explore the implications of restricting what can be purchased with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Members of the committee heard from a panel of witnesses who discussed the challenges of implementing product restrictions, the need for encouraging healthy purchasing habits, and the role that incentives and nutrition education can play in changing consumer behavior.
“Nearly 43 million Americans depend on SNAP to provide food for themselves and their families. It is a vital tool in helping people through tough financial times. While the Agriculture Committee devoted immense time and effort last Congress to learn about the past and present of this program, we now need to focus on the future of SNAP. A recent USDA study showing the purchasing habits of SNAP recipients has again raised the question of whether certain food or beverage items should be restricted as eligible food items in SNAP. While there is a case to be made for encouraging recipients to make healthy purchasing decisions, there are also concerns worth noting when it comes to restricting certain food and beverage options. I appreciate today’s productive conversation, as this discussion is yet another addition to our committee’s commitment to strengthen SNAP,” said Chairman Conaway.
Dr. Angela Rachidi, Research Fellow, Poverty Studies, American Enterprise Institute, Washington, D.C.
Dr. Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, Director, The Hamilton Project, Senior Fellow, Economic Studies, The Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C.
Ms. Leslie Sarasin, CEO, Food Marketing Institute, Arlington, VA
Mr. John Weidman, Deputy Executive Director, The Food Trust, Philadelphia, PA
Dr. Brian Wansink, Director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, Ithaca, NY