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A group of more than 150 House Republicans has introduced its budget resolution for 2019 – and it includes a proposal that would require states to restrict Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [SNAP] – formerly ‘food stamps’ – purchases to healthy foods.

The Healthy Staples plan – created by non-profit health organization the Physician’s Committee, led by Dr. Neal Barnard – sees SNAP users focus on foods including fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. Under the plan, participating grocers would be subsidized.

The Republican Study Committee is being urged by PCRM’s 12,000-plus doctors to incorporate the Healthy Staples plan into its budget resolution.

Critical reform

Physicians Committee President, Dr. Neal Barnard, said: “More than 150 members of Congress are essentially recommending that SNAP incorporate the Physicians Committee’s Healthy Staples plan to provide participants more fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes.

“We applaud Republican Study Committee members and Republican Study Committee Chairman Rep. Mark Walker for including this critical nonpartisan reform in their budget resolution.”

According to PCRM: “44 percent of adult SNAP participants are obese, versus 32 percent for nonparticipants at the same income level nonparticipants. They also have an increased risk of death from heart disease and diabetes, compared to SNAP-eligible nonparticipants.”

Health benefits

SNAP participants choosing foods from under the ‘Healthy Staples’ program would see their nutrient intake improve significantly, taking in twice the fiber, iron, vitamin E, folate, potassium, calcium, and magnesium than those following a typical American diet. They would take in almost 40 percent more vitamin D; and more than five times more beta-carotene.

They would also consume 65 percent less fat and 85 percent less saturated fat, and the excess of 250 milligrams of cholesterol consumed daily would be reduced to essentially zero.

According to PCRM: “Healthy Staples is inspired by the USDA’s Women, Infants and Children program, or WIC, which is based on the use of foods packages that include foods deemed to provide good nutrition. When WIC began promoting more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, childhood obesity declined for participants, according to a recent study in JAMA Pediatrics. Children make up nearly half of SNAP participants.”

Maria Chiorando

Maria is the editor of Plant Based News. As a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle.