Some fast food chains aim to accept food stamps - Tucson News Now

Some fast food chains aim to accept food stamps

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD) – Helping to feed those who can't afford food is why the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program or SNAP exists.  It used to be called food stamps.

Those who use it have different opinions whether restaurants like KFC or Taco Bell should be on the menu.

"No, because it's fast food, its greasy, it's unhealthy and the point of nutrition assistance is for nutrition, to help your family become healthy," one woman said outside the Department of Economic Security office in downtown Tucson Wednesday.

"I understand that but I just still think it should be allowed just because I have cancer and epilepsy and so sometimes I really need, you know, some of my family members are not going to be there to be cooking and you know it's just going to be once in awhile, it's not going to be like, all the time," said Maria Gastelum as she approached the office.

In fact, Yum!, the company in charge of chains such as KFC and Taco Bell wants to accept SNAP from the disabled, elderly, and homeless, according to USA Today.

Arizona already allows that group of recipients to use SNAP at certain restaurants such as Domino's Pizza and Golden Corral at specific addresses.  Only a few states have this exception.

"It is healthy.  It's healthier to have a meal, any meal, rather than skip a meal, and nobody can deny that.  And that is what's happening to low income people on SNAP who are unable to prepare their own food," said Jessica Bartholow, an advocate for the Western Center on Law and Poverty in a telephone call from Sacramento, California.  California also carries the exception for disabled, elderly, and homeless people.

"You don't want to take away the ability of someone who might be homeless or doesn't have the ability to prepare food the opportunity to eat hot meals.  But I think that's more the exception than the rule," said Don Gates, program manager for Communities Putting Prevention to Work at the Pima County Health Department.

Even those who don't think SNAP should be used at restaurants in general saw how some recipients might need a hand.

"Maybe there could be restrictions on who could get the fast food or who can't," said the same woman who disagreed with allowing restaurants for SNAP recipients in general.

"Sometimes people can't cook at the time, like I can't sometimes because I get sick and it would be a help, you know, just to go get some food that's already made," Gastelum said.

Copyright 2011 KOLD. All rights reserved.

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