Reddit is often called “the front page of the internet” as it allows multiple groups of people to chat about breaking news or specific areas of interest. Today, one post on the front page is about NPR’s story on the FINIP and its role in incentivizing healthy food changes. The thread contains some interesting tidbits of how the “other 96%-98%” think about farmers markets and incentives. It may help markets to better understand the barriers that remain for these programs, from markets promoters to detractors in these comments like this:
Assuming that people eat less junk because of it. Someone getting $100 in benefits that was spending $30 on healthy foods, and $70 on junk, may end up now spending $30 on health, and $85 on junk, or $60 on healthy foods, but still spend $70 on junk. Also, just because you bought food at a farmers market, doesn’t mean it was healthy. You can still buy a lot of junk at a farmers market. And now that there is an incentive for buying at “farmers markets”, I have a feeling that the big companies will find a way to get their foods sold at farmers markets. The intentions are good, hopefully things work out and people make better choices, but I am skeptical over any results.
I believe this is a good idea and SNAP should have been promoting healthier choices a long time ago.
For one thing, buying locally helps local farmers, which helps the rural economy which hasn’t seen economic gains in a long time.
For another, buying fruits and vegetables will lead to more people eating healthier meals instead of processed foods. As a grocery store clerk I often saw people buying crappy food with their SNAP cards. Many people would purchase candy bars and soda rather than nutritional food. This isn’t to say that people shouldn’t treat themselves from time to time, but it doesn’t make sense for the government to subsidize companies making unhealthy food and people who make choices that cause health problems in the long-term.
What would be best is if the SNAP program included cooking classes. It’s so much easier to save money and stay healthy if you cook for yourself. I’ve been a chef at a hostel where we cook healthy meals for guests and staff and I can make a decent meal (chicken and pasta with sides of corn and green beans) for just $2-$3 for a big filling serving. A similar meal at a restaurant would be at least $10, and it’s a lot healthier than whatever you could get from the dollar menu at McDonald’s.