The purpose of the food stamp program, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is to provide nutritious foods to the poor.
But according to Sean Hannity’s one-hour special, “Boomtown 2: The Business of Food Stamps,” which featured Government Accountability Institute President and Co-founder Peter Schweizer and Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon, some fast food chains have lobbied for food stamps to be eligible for use at their restaurants. Federal rules generally do not allow food stamp recipients to use their benefits for prepared foods.
Yum! Brands, which owns Taco Bell, KFC, Long John Silver’s, Pizza Hut, and others, lobbied to allow restaurants to be eligible to take food stamps.
“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,” said Yum! spokesperson Jonathan Blum.
Rhode Island and Florida also have pilot programs testing the use of food stamps at restaurants.
USDA spokesperson Jean Daniel says a 1970s provision permits states to allow disabled, elderly, and homeless people to use food stamps at restaurants. But as food stamp enrollments swell, a host of retailers have jumped into the food stamp game to secure their slice of the taxpayer-funded pie.
According to USA Today:
The number of businesses approved to accept food stamps grew by a third from 2005 to 2010, U.S. Department of Agriculture records show, as vendors from convenience and dollar discount stores to gas stations and pharmacies increasingly joined the growing entitlement program.
Between 2005 and 2010, the number of businesses certified in the SNAP program went from about 156,000 to nearly 209,000, according to USDA data.
Now, with the federal government projected to spend $82 billion in 2013 funding the food stamp program, stores are worried fast food restaurants are trying to snag a share of their taxpayer-funded profits.
“If the pie’s only so big, nobody’s going to want to see the pie sliced thinner,” said Convenience Stores spokesman Jeff Lenard. “I’m not sure that’s in the best interest of public health.”
Schweizer says the growth of government will continue as long as companies have an incentive to see welfare programs expand.
“What companies have realized is there’s good money to be made in the poverty industry,” said Schweizer. “Shrinking the size of government will only occur when we reduce the incentives corporations and individuals have to see government swell.”