Gripe of the Day: EBT For Junk Food is Fundamentally Wrong

Here’s my gripe of the day. I would love to hear your opinion!

The California Food Stamps program for low-income families is now known as CalFresh. It’s aim to "add to your food budget to put healthy and nutritious food on the table.” Families who qualify are issued electronic cards to help make the transactions easier and also to eliminate some of the stigma of tearing out a food stamp. The cards issue what is called an EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer).

On paper, this approach looks like a possible solution. After all, the links between childhood obesity and poverty are well documented. Studies also show that girls are starting puberty at ages as low as seven due to obesity and the increase of hormones in their food. I hope we can agree that low-income families need calorie-dense nutritious food on the table, now. In theory, CalFresh EBT should provide both calorie-dense nutritious food and easy access to the families who need it most.

Therefore, I find it inherently contradictory that convenience stores such as 7-11 and many fast food chains accept EBT! Even more disturbing is that CalFresh approved that 7-11 and fast food chains are EBT-eligible. I support providing low-income families with funds needed to support health and nutrition, but using state funds so that a child can load up with a twinkie, a cherry slurppie and a Jumbo Jack? In my opinion there’s a horrific contradiction within our state policy. What do you think?


Question: Should fast food chains and convenience stores such as 7-11 be eligible to accept EBT?