Oakland, CA – Are food stamps lining the pockets of the nation’s wealthiest corporations instead of closing the hunger gap in the United States? Why does Walmart benefit from more than $200 million in annual food stamp purchases in Oklahoma alone? Why does one bank, J.P. Morgan Chase, hold exclusive contracts in 24 states to administer public benefits?
These are a few of the questions explored in a new report called: “Food Stamps, Follow the Money: Are Corporations Profiting from Hungry Americans?” from Michele Simon, president of Eat Drink Politics, a watchdog consulting group. This first-of-its kind investigation details how the food stamp program-originally designed to help farmers and those in need-lines the pockets of junk food makers, food retailers, and banks.
Right now, Congress is debating the farm bill, including significant cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps). Much attention has focused on how agricultural subsidies fuel our cheap, unhealthy food supply. In reality, the largest and most overlooked taxpayer subsidy to the food industry is SNAP, which comprised two-thirds of the farm bill budget in 2008.
“Michele Simon’s well-researched, credible investigation breaks new ground and exposes who else stands to gain from the government’s largest food assistance program,” said New York University Professor Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics. “While reauthorizing the farm bill, Congress needs to make sure that the poor get their fair share of SNAP benefits,” she added.