Yum! Brands Drops Bid to Allow Food Stamp Use at Fast Food Restaurants

Posted on by Vanessa Hoffman MPH, RD

Yum! Brands Inc, the Louisville, Kentucky based company that owns Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC recently stopped its campaign to encourage state governments to allow people to use food stamps at its fast food restaurants.The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program is under the purview of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) but states decide whether their SNAP beneficiaries can participate in a
restaurant meals program which allows homeless, elderly and disabled
individuals, populations who can’t cook easily on their own to buy hot food at
restaurants using their EBT cards.

Currently the restaurant meals program is being implemented
statewide in California, Arizona, and Michigan, and is limited to specific
areas in Rhode Island and Florida. Yum! Brands was lobbying officials in
Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida to also participate in the program.
However, once USDA officials formally urged states not to include Yum! Brands,
the company dropped its campaign, according to Bloomberg

“For us to be indifferent to the quality of the food is just a
serious mistake,” said Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and
Consumer Services at USDA in an interview with Bloomberg. “We should promote
access to healthy foods.” The Let’s Move initiative echoes this goal. In Let’s
Move Cities, Towns and Counties
, one of the goals is to make healthy
food affordable and accessible.

An article published in USDA’s Amber Waves, March 2010
issue, SNAP Benefits and Eating Out: Wise Choices Required explains the tradeoffs
involved in allowing individuals to use food stamps at fast food restaurants.
It may help with time constraints, but researchers at Virginia Polytechnic
Institute and State University and USDA found that there would be higher costs
and less healthy choices.

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