I put up a card yesterday showing the availability of Red Bull on food stamps.
Lots of people (myself included) pointed out that Red Bull is a ridiculous thing for the government to be paying for.
So I did some research into this, and it looks like this is a really ambiguous issue.
There's a few key points on this:
1. Welfare shoppers get very little money so often need to buy high calorie foods (healthy foods like salad may not have the same punch).
2. Transaction costs if supermarkets have to sort through purchasers (cannot be ignored)
3. Low income neighborhoods may not have real supermarkets (which are replaced by mini stops). Convenience stores often don't have a healthy selection to choose from.
All of this implies that it won't be easy to get food stamp shoppers to switch to healthy foods, and that legislating the change could easily backfire.
However, the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) launched in 2011 which gives SNAP (State Nutritional Assistance Program) recipients a 30 percent discount for health foods. The results won't be clear until later this year.