Saturday, January 21, 2023

SNAP Reform: Iowa Does It Right. Food Snobs SO VERY Wrong (A FACS Teacher Explains)

 On October 27, 2022, this blog published The Farce of Food Insecurity: How Federal Spending Fosters Hunger (and illness) in America which exposed some pretty harsh realities how food is used to grow an economy rather than feed citizens.  The following post will explain how wrong Obama-era food program were particularly for low income families and children.  

Within a few days, those internet advocacy news rags that pounce on political stories with little or no research will be experiencing some digestive distress after calling out Iowa's state proposal of some badly needed reform to the SNAP food assistance program  In the end, these "cruel" (therawstory.com) measures are going to make those who voted in the affirmative look both knowledgeable and fiscally responsible.  Sources such as Salon , The Raw Story , and even  Business Insider will have to eat their words when science proves these changes to be good for citizens as well as at a lower cost to tax payers. 

 

Contributing to the inflation that has elevated food prices for over two years, the sad, and rarely acknowledged truth, is that Federal Food Assistance dollars regularly purchase items that have no food value (diet drinks, almond milk,etc.), and, high dollar splurges such as premium cuts of meat, imported out of season fruits and vegetables and high glycemic snacks that contribute to type 2 diabetes and childhood obesity. 

Perhaps this will be the first step in squashing the "fresh food snob" mentality that has kept quality foods and hunger relief from those who receive benefits.

Started by former First Lady Michelle Obama, the unreasonable expectation of providing fresh food on a daily basis for school lunches was a pipe dream from the beginning. Anyone working in agriculture and around food service understands all too clearly that mankind did NOT survive for five thousands years on fresh fruits and vegetables.  To believe it is possible even in a global economy is simply naive. 

Before further explaining what the bill likely says, readers need to recognize that fresh foods are largely unregulated, highly prone to food contamination, spoil easily, cost more, and are not  tested for food value. Frozen and canned foods have most of the prep work done for you and are tested regularly for quality. In short, NO ONE should be buying fresh food when a canned or frozen food option is available (except eggs).

**ONE MORE THING: Good nutrition is not about how fresh a food is but about how much food can be purchased for a dollar.  By banning the expensive options, lawmakers make MORE food available at a lower cost.  Good nutrition starts with good shopping.

Let's educate readers (and journalists) as to what foods are REALLY banned. 

American Cheese (Food) - Likely shortened by a writer who has not idea what it is American Cheese and American Cheese Food are two different things.  The American Dairy Association has been trying to get the USDA to heavily regulate the use of cheese food for decades.  Consisting of less than 50% milk, cheese food is mostly fat and offers little or no protein to children who like its single slice packaging. If it's slices come wrapped in plastic look elsewhere because that is the sign of a low quality food. 

White Bread - Long on the list of low quality foods, white bread is used far more than it should be in low income lunches.  Tortillas, flat bread or even crackers make a better energy source.  Sure to cause your blood sugar to spike unless you are very active.

Fresh Meat - This is a legal term used for exports as well as retail grocery sales. Fresh meat DOES NOT mean all meat but only that meat which is cut and package but never frozen.  Frozen and canned meat options have come a long way since the days of Spam (the food) and Treet (its competitor).  Top quality beef, chicken, pork and turkey can be found in one pound cans that only need to be reheated. The cost is likely half of fresh and some can be as low as $1.00 per 4 oz serving (think Quarter Pounder).  Frozen chicken breasts, fish, and sausage add variety in a way fresh meats cannot.  

** This is the extent of the highlights most sources mentioned. Here are a few others that might also be added to the list. 

High Water Beverages - From diet drinks to Hi-C and Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktails.  Many beverage makers sell sugar water as foods.  Lining the shelves these products take the place of 100% juice products.  The profit margin of these drinks is enormous. 

Deceptive Snacks - Everyone deserves a piece of candy or a good chocolate chip cookie once in a while but items like granola bars and fruit snacks sound healthier than they are.  Expect to see a few of these items banned. 

Chips - Contrary to some dietary advice, potatoes chips offer a good supply of essential sodium and potassium.  Other chips like Cheetos, Doritos, corn chips and pretzels are in the same basic category as flour and white bread.  

WARNING - Finally a word of warning about how some websites are using this new item to raise money for questionable charities promising to feed children.  The USDA school lunch program is one of the most comprehensive food access programs there are to children of all ages, rich or poor.  Each lunch meal must provide approximately half of all the calories a child needs in a day. If they eat breakfast as school there access is up to about 80% of needed calories.  It might not be the food they want to eat but to say charities are supplying money to federal school lunch programs is likely fraudulant.  Think twice before you give. The local food bank is the best way to support your neighbors who need help.