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By Kansas Agland

There is some public confusion over what are eligible food items on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

"You shouldn't be able to buy cigarettes with food stamps," said Jeff Glendening state director of Americans for Prosperity. Actually, a person can't buy cigarettes, according to the USDA Food and Nutrition Services. While some people receiving food assistance might smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol and have lots of hungry cats to feed, those items can't be purchased with food stamps. Yet, as state and national officials note, there is a black market where individuals sell their food stamps for cash, alcohol or cigarettes and, as one on food stamps admitted about his past - drugs. Here is what households can buy with SNAP benefits under the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008: Foods for the household to eat, such as: breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables, meats, fish and poultry, and dairy products, seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat. In some areas, restaurants can be authorized to accept SNAP benefits from qualified homeless, elderly, or disabled people in exchange for low-cost meals. Here is what households cannot use SNAP benefits to buy: Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco; any nonfood items, such as: pet foods, soaps, grooming items, cosmetics, paper products, household supplies, vitamins and medicines; food that will be eaten in the store and hot foods. In an interview with The News, Glendening stated the food stamp program is broken and should be separated from the Farm Bill. Loopholes and fraudulent use of the program by recipients are two big issues that concern him. "I think you could safely say it is a broken program. Unfortunately, you have a number of loopholes that are helping people who aren't truly in need and are not truly struggling," Glendening said. Soft drinks, candy, cookies, snack crackers, and ice cream are food items and are eligible items for purchase under SNAP. Seafood, steak, and bakery cakes are also food items and are also eligible items. Since the current definition of food is a specific part of the act, any change to this definition would require action by a member of Congress. Several times in the history of SNAP, Congress had considered placing limits on the types of food that could be purchased with program benefits. However, they concluded that designating foods as luxury or non-nutritious would be administratively costly and burdensome. For more information go to http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap

 

 

 

 

 

 

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