The Community Farm Alliance is encouraging Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear to reject a policy that would allow certain food stamp recipients to use their vouchers at fast food restaurants.
Louisville-based Yum Brands is lobbying the state to authorize food stamp use at restaurants by the disabled, elderly and homeless. The fast food giant believes the change would not only be good for business, but it will help those who are underserved and cannot prepare hot meals for themselves.
Farm alliance board member Beth Nolte says the change would push unhealthy meals into vulnerable communities that lack quality produce options.
“Certainly we’re hoping to make some noise and create some awareness and let our elected officials know that it undermines all our efforts, and I think the efforts not only that CFA members are doing but the efforts happening at the state level and happening in Louisville Metro Government,” she says.
The Louisville health department has not taken an official position on the proposed policy change, nor has the city’s recently formed Food Policy Council, which works to reduce obesity.
Currently, only Michigan, Arizona and parts of California permit the use of food stamps at fast food restaurants. Supporters have argued that it gives people on public assistance more choices, but food justice advocates believe it could set back efforts to get healthier foods to local communities here in Kentucky
“I don’t think CFA members are interested in telling people what they can and can’t eat. The issue here is that it’s bad policy and that it just runs counter to all our collective efforts to make local, healthy food more accessible and to make it the easier choice for everyone,” says Nolte.