Using Food Stamps To Buy Supplements?

Am I the only one who finds this absurd? When I was researching the school nutrition bill in my previous post, I stumbled upon this doozie…

S. 770

To amend the Food Stamp Act of 1977 to permit participating households to use food stamp benefits to purchase nutritional supplements providing vitamins or minerals, and for other purposes.

Other purposes??? Huh?

The argument to support this bill is that low-income families aren’t getting the nutrients they need.

Congress finds that–

(1) the dietary patterns of Americans often do not comply with the daily intakes of vitamins and minerals recommended by the Food and Drug Administration;

(2) children in low-income families and the elderly often fail to achieve adequate nutrient intakes;

(3) pregnant women have particularly high nutrient needs, which they often fail to meet;


  • (A) scientific studies show that nutritional supplements containing folic acid (a B vitamin) may prevent as many as 60 to 80 percent of neural tube birth defects;
  • (B) the Public Health Service, in September 1992, recommended that all women of childbearing age who are capable of becoming pregnant consume at least 0.4 milligrams of folic acid per day to reduce the risk of spina bifida and other neural tube birth defects affecting the fetus; and
  • (C) the Food and Drug Administration has approved a health claim that folic acid reduces the risk of neural tube birth defects;

(5) infants who do not receive adequate intakes of iron may suffer from impaired mental and behavioral development; and

(6) scientific evidence indicates that increased intake of specific nutrients over an extended period of time protects against diseases and conditions such as osteoporosis, cataracts, cancer, and heart disease.

    So, they want to change the law to allow the purchase of supplements.

    Section 3(g)(1) of the Food Stamp Act of 1977 (7 U.S.C. 2012(g)(1)) is amended by striking `or food product’ and inserting `, food product, or nutritional supplement providing a vitamin or mineral, or both,’

    This would essentially allow the use of food stamps to buy not only multivitamins, but pretty much any supplement on the market, including whey protein (for muscle building). It is essentially saying that you can’t meet daily nutrient requirements from food, which is wrong. Instead of opening up the door to use FOOD stamps for NON-FOOD supplements, how about meal plans and cooking classes to help low-income families get their nutrients from real food.

    Thank goodness this Bill didn’t go anywhere since March 2007. Come on people. Think!

    11 thoughts on “Using Food Stamps To Buy Supplements?

    1. I agree with your sentiments entirely, but here (in Australia) at least it is becoming increasingly expensive to buy good quality fruit and vegetables, which is very depressing.

    2. Andrew –

      I would love to visit Australia sometime! I can say here in the U.S. that you can still get very high quality frozen fruits and vegetables for a few dollars a bag. Canned fruits and veggies are even cheaper. Even our “dollar thrift stores” have them for a few cans for a dollar. In addition, canned beans are very inexpensive and they can serve as a cheap source of protein and fiber. Finally, rice can be a huge value, especially if purchased in larger bags. Beans and rice tend to be staples in our food assistance programs like WIC.

      I think what is so frustrating is that there is little effort going into helping people change behaviors and teaching them how to get their nutrients from real food. That seems like a no-brainer.

    3. Do you know how much it actually costs to feed a family of four? How about how much it costs for fresh foods and veggies. Eating canned veggies and fruits is barely more nutritious than chewing a cardboard box or even the metal can it comes in. I don’t think there is any problem allowing someone to purchase childrens multivitamins on food stamps. I would rather make sure they had proper nutrition, vitamins and minerals.

      Donald Davis, a biochemist at the University of Texas, said that of 13 major nutrients in fruits and vegetables tracked by the Agriculture Department from 1950 to 1999, six showed noticeable declines — protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin and vitamin C. The declines ranged from 6 percent for protein, 15 percent for iron, 20 percent for vitamin C, and 38 percent for riboflavin.

      What is so frustrating is that there is little effort going to helping people understand that it is almost impossible to feed a person healthy nutritious food based on $27 per week per person.

    4. Lizard,

      Feeding a family of four is expensive – and the amount of money people get for food stamps makes it difficult to buy healthy food.

      You are wrong about canned fruits and vegetables. Use the USDA nutrient database and look up the nutrition quality of canned green beans vs. fresh cooked green beans. They are very close.

      In addition, there are farmers markets programs to participate in that bring grocery bags of free fresh fruits and vegetables to families on food stamps. Food stamps can also be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets, where you can get say 4 apples for $1.

      The decline in the nutrients you mentioned is interested. Do you have a published research study you can share?

      Allowing supplements as generally as mentioned in the bill is a quick band aid for a bigger problem. It’s one thing to give a discount for a basic multivitamin, but it should stop there.

    5. Could you feed a family of 5 on $215.00 a month? Sure its easy. Lots of Top Ramen, Spaghetti, Beans, PB&J Sandwiches, Baked Potatoes, Fried Potatoes, Mashed Potatoes, Oh and eggs, and the cheapest fullest box or bags of cereal you can find. Plus for a family of 5 thats a lot of milk. Milk is around 4.65 a gallon or 2 for 7 now. Really the only vegetables you can fit in there are frozen or canned. Fruits? Canned only occasionally fresh but its usually apples, which you couldnt have one a day. Maybe one a week or so. Now understand that none of this is healthy. The pastas are loaded with carbs, eggs with cholesterol, carbs in the cereal… the frozen and canned stuff loses most of its nutrients when its cooked. So all in all Low income Americans have a need for suppliments. You complain most low income women must be eating enough because they are overwheight… its mostly from what they eat not how much. If supplements were allowed, they would all be getting the right vitamins in a supplement. I couldnt live like that. I have to have whey protien twice a day, and take a multivitamin daily. No carbs here, or beef. Not because I choose to but because of health issues. I better not lose my job and have to temporarily rely on the system because I would end up having to feed a family of 6 on 345 a month. The only foods we would be able to afford are things we have a strict no policy against.

    6. Hi “mom of 4″… some interesting points. Eating on a budget is not easy. Carbs are not a bad thing at all! Eggs do have cholesterol, but you can still enjoy them a couple times a week.

      Potatoes are full of nutrition and they are inexpensive. The goal is to eat half whole grains so you don’t always have to have brown rice or wheat pasta. Apples, bananas and oranges are very inexpensive and cost about .25 each so a family of five can have a piece a fruit a day for $1.25.

      I would eat beans often, 5-6 times a week because they are a good source of protein. You don’t need a whey protein supplement to meet your protein needs. One can of tuna fish meets an entire day’s protein needs. So something like a tuna fish sandwich (with 1/2 can per person) will meet half your needs. There is also a little protein in the bread.

      Tuna costs about 2-3 cents an ounce whereas whey protein costs about 25 cents and ounce.

      Since you have a computer, why don’t you visit and use their tools to calculate your needs and track your food intake. I think you’ll find that it is easy to meet your needs with healthy foods. Think of all the money you will save when you buy food, not supplements.

    7. Can’t believe your retarded ass is going to compare food supplements aka meal replacement’s to NO or Prohormones (which are illegal now) I don’t know if you been keeping up with laws but several years back they changed supplements to nontaxable food items. If an obese person can buy a 9000 calorie pizza, why the hell can’t I buy a HEALTHY meal replacement? It has everything I need in it. By the way, some people can’t eat normal foods very well, due to digestive problems, and personally I rather have a MRP most of the time. If you don’t get it, don’t understand or don’t like it, tough luck. There are more choices then there used to be and we deserve the right to pick what we want to eat, without some ass judging people, cause he is too ignorant to tell the difference from a healthy, easy digestible meal, high in good usable protein. By the way, all protein isn’t the same protein, man you people are stupid, no wonder why this country is obese. Bread and beans might have protein, but the amino acid profile in them isn’t enough to use that protein. Damn you people think too dam much

    8. I don’t see ANYTHING wrong with this at all.

      This legislation is only recognizing that low-income families aren’t predisposed to healthy eating habits and due to lack of money. Therefore, by offering the right to purchase whey protein, vitamins, supplements etc, you would be encouraging a more efficient way for families to get their daily dietary requirements. It is a very healthy, smart, and cost-efficient way of doing it.

      A bottle of whey proten … $20 …. 5 pounds of sirloin steak … $20 … what’s the difference?

      What’s the big deal?

    9. Many times health issues land people on food stamps. I think it is short sided to not look at the total picture before passing judgment on others. Products like Juven which is recommended to help heal skin and bones should be covered. We want people to be able to repair their bodies as fast as possible and the food route would take much longer.

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