That seems like an awful lot, but is roughly equivalent to the same percentage non SNAP households spend of their own money on the sweets and snacks. Still, taxpayers funding the purchase seems different than folks buying the items for themselves. At least SNAP forbids the purchase of alcoholic beverages with benefit payments. I would imagine tax payers would have a real problem with that. In the end, I suppose in the wide world of welfare we have bigger fish to fry than to worry about sweets and snacks. Quite literally, so do SNAP beneficiaries. They spend about 19% of SNAP benefits on meat and if you add in vegetables it is over 26% of expenditures.
In the end I’m not sure how sweets and snacks help the poor get back on their feet, but maybe that is not the way to look at it. Maybe it is as simple as merely giving the poor the freedom to choose for themselves what they buy to eat and drink. Which means the poor are just like the rest of us in the struggle to eat better and lead healthier lives. Welcome to the club. I know I’d be healthier and feel better if I ate and drank less of that stuff. If the government outlawed it maybe I’d even have a better chance of succeeding. But then we’d get into that freedom thing and this is America. So if you want to eat lousy you have that right – even if taxpayers buy it for you.
[i] Percentages of food expenditures from: USDA. Foods typically purchased by SNAP households (Summary). November 2016. [Internet]. Retrieved February 18, 2017. Available here. Estimate of 2016 cost calculated as follows; SNAP total benefits of $66,597 billion times 22.6 percent. SNAP total benefits from USDA. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Participation and Costs, 1969 - 2016. [Internet]. Retrieved February 17, 2017. Available here.