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What Do You Think of the Idea of Accepting Food Stamps in Fast Food Restaurants?

There is a conversation of whether fast food restaurants should be allowed to accept food stamps as a form of payment. According to this CNN News report, food stamp use surged from $30.3 billion in 2007 to $64.7 billion in 2010 (the recession began in December 2007). Some believe that it is a good idea to let people use food stamps in restaurants because many food stamp users are the elderly or homeless people --- they may not be capable of shopping in grocery stores or cooking at home. Others worry that it would cause a even more severe diabetes problem among Americans because few people order healthy food in fast food restaurants.

I am not a gourmet chef, but I enjoy cooking at home. I know I have saved a lot of money as well just by eating at home. I, however, have to admit that there are also times when I do not feel like cooking or when I want to go out and celebrate a special moment. In that case, I will treat myself a nice meal in a restaurant. I am not sure if it is because of the food, the dining experience, or a combination of both, but I know that I feel good when dining out. With this rationale, allowing people to use food stamps in fast food restaurants could be a good thing. What are your opinions? Healthy food? Fast food? Or no food for food stamp users?

Allowing people to use food stamps in fast food restaurants also means huge business to the industry --- even 10% of $64.7 billion is still a tremendous amount. In addition to the bottom line, are there any other potential impacts? Will the clienteles of fast food restaurants change when food stamps are allowed? Do restaurants have to introduce new menu items in responding to the changes? Will accepting food stamps also affect the way of how business is operated? If so, in what way?

Last but not least, if you are worrying about the deficit that the government has already had, how may this change of using food stamps in fast food restaurants affect tax payers? …


  1. I know this is a very hot topic and that it will be debated very heavily. I feel it is important that people are able to eat rather than suffer from hunger. I agree very much with what the CNN clip brings to light. Hunger is a major issue and is it better to have bad food versus having no food at all. I do however believe that you can go into a grocery story and buy fruits or things of that nature and you do not need a home in which to cook, but obviously one cannot live off of fruits alone. I believe that an education process must occur so that individuals understand how to make smarter decisions when they go to fast food restaurants. In my opinion there are worse things they could be spending government/tax payers money on than fast food for people who are hungry.

  2. Really, food stamps in a fast food restaurants? If you need food stamps you shouldn’t be eating out. Eating out, along with entertainment, is usually the first thing most of us give up if our income decreases. Every grocery store around has pre-made food. The issue of someone being unable to make it to a grocery store seems rather week since if they cannot make it to the store how are they going to make it to a fast food place. Interestingly, now that I think of it, there is no longer a grocery store in the area of town where many of my city’s lower income residents reside BUT there is pretty much some sort of fast food type place on every corner. Which brings us to the issue of access to quality food in impoverished neighborhoods. Another whole issue this country needs to address.
    I also really don’t understand how implementing this change would help the economy. People get food stamps. They’re not getting more food stamps to spend at fast food places. Although there may be an increase of people on food stamps due to the poor economy. So, if people were allowed to use food stamps for fast food, the only change would be that fast food places would be making a huge profit. Money that these people would have spent at the grocery store instead goes to say, McDonalds. It’s not the economy that will benefit, it’s fast food companies that would.
    Lastly, I have to address with Dr. Jampolis comments in regards to the fact that many of those on food stamps are not purchasing any better food at the grocery store than they would be at a fast food place. I worked in a grocery store when I was in college (the first time) and I would say most of those on food stamps tended to buy very little fruits and vegetables. Mostly processed food, high in fat and calories. I will say in their defense though that if you have a family to feed and a limited income you are looking for quantity over quality. Fresh produce is expensive in comparison to cheap pre-made family size frozen entrees.

    Debra M.

  3. This is an interesting idea whether food stamp should be accepted in fast food restaurant or not. From the aspect that most of the food stamp user are elders and homeless, it may seems good idea to give them more and easier chances to eat. Of course they can easily resolve their hunger problem since there are fast food restaurant everywhere and there are quite variety menu.However, it seems like breaking huge amount of people's health with enormous amount of tax. It is certain that amount of money for food stamp use will be increased with accepting fast food restaurant because more people will use it to the "easy way to eat". If the money should be spent, it must be used for the people who need help. Use of food stamp regulation should be reconsidered to prevent great loss of tax and for the health of those who using its benefit.

    Jaewon Lee

  4. I think this is a horrible idea!!

    As stated in a post above, when cutting back on our budgets, frivolous spending on entertainment and dining out are some of the first transactions to be cut. If you're on food stamps to begin with, you should not be spending them on fast food.
    Fast food is not healthy. After watching documentaries and reading novels on the production of the food produced, even the healthier options at fast food restaurants isn't healthy to consume.

    I dont believe it is right to look down upon someone who uses food stamps, so whether the clientele changes at the fast food restaurants, is irrelevant. I think food stamps should be put towards the aid in the local economy. Instead of allowing food stamps to be used at restaurants, why not allow the stamps to be accepted at Farmers Markets?? This can help increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables within families and gets the whole family involved in the selection and production process of meals!

    If stamps do become accepted in restaurants, I dont see how the menu would need alterations. The business should be run the same, and if anything, more healthier items should be available for the consumer. Another idea could be, if the stamps are used, they cannot be used on carbonated beverages. This can help consumers to increase consumption of milk or water.

  5. Thank you, Allison. I like the idea of accepting food stamps in the farmers market. My concern is that not all farmers are trained to accept food stamps. Or, the farmers market may need to employ additional staff for processing food stamps. Regardless, I think that is a very good idea --- I also LOVE farmers market!

  6. After taking a nutrition in hospitality class and briefly looking at the topic of food stamps I think the issue is beyond just fast food restaurants. I completely disagree with food stamps being accepted at fast food restaurants. I also disagree that they are, for the majority, only accepted at grocery stores or markets in “bad” neighborhoods so the variety of health foods most people on food stamps can obtain is minimal.
    Yes, I do not think people should starve however there are very few nutritional items on a fast food menu and if there are, how can you guarantee that is what the food stamps will be limited too? Can you say someone can only buy a salad from McDonalds with their food stamp? Run by the government, yes but these are people we are talking about not the treatment of animals. I feel this issue is far bigger than just fast food restaurants and I do not think that is a quick enough fix to the problem nor do I think it’s a healthy one.
    I am also less concerned with taxpaying dollars and more concerned with people’s health as noted above. I think this is an extremely hot topic and I appreciate all the important and interesting questions Prof. Kwok mentioned in his posts.


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