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Health advocates howled when they learned that fast-food giant Yum! Brands Inc. wants to let low- income Americans use food stamps at its Taco Bell and KFC restaurants. Now the U.S. Department of Agriculture., which funds the food stamp program, has also voiced its opposition and is encouraging states not to give Yum a green light, Bloomberg Businessweek reports in its Nov. 21 issue.
“For us to be indifferent to the quality of the food is just a serious mistake,” Kevin Concannon, the Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, said in a phone interview. “We should promote access to healthy foods.”
The program places some restrictions on what types of products beneficiaries can buy: alcohol, cigarettes, pet food, vitamins and hot food are on the forbidden list. While about 85 percent of food stamps are redeemed at large grocery stores and supermarkets, in the last decade a handful of states including California, Arizona, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Florida have begun allowing people who can’t cook for themselves -- the homeless, elderly, or disabled -- to buy hot meals at authorized fast-food establishments.
“It makes perfect sense to expand a program that’s working well in California, Arizona, and Michigan, enabling the homeless, elderly, and disabled to purchase prepared meals with SNAP benefits in a restaurant environment just as they can purchase ingredients in a supermarket,” said Jonathan Blum, a spokesman for the company.