Bill to allow food stamps at fast-food restaurants misses the mark, Wirepoints president says
In the matter of Illinois' Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Wirepoints' Ted Dabrowski believes lawmakers in Springfield are not seeing the forest for the trees.
“I think debating where Illinois SNAP recipients eat is a real distraction from the bigger problem of far too many people in the state still being dependent on the program,” the president of the government watchdog website told Prairie State Wire. “We should be focused on bringing more jobs here and getting people off the program, plus removing all the barriers that are causing so many people to leave Illinois.”
Lawmakers this week further advanced legislation that would allow residents receiving food stamps benefits through SNAP to use them to make purchases at fast-food restaurants like McDonalds. The so-called "Restaurant Meals Program" has already passed the House and is expected to soon be debated in the Senate.
Such laws are already in effect in states such as California and Arizona, where food stamps can be used at fast-food establishments like Jack in the Box and Subway. Here in Illinois, House Bill 3343 would go into effect on Jan. 1.
To be eligible for the program, restaurants would be required to partner with the Department of Human Services and only SNAP recipients that are disabled, elderly or homeless, or their spouses, would qualify. While some critics have argued that launching such programs will only lead to a movement to allot more money to SNAP recipients given the higher costs of restaurant foods, Dabrowski maintains there’s an even bigger reason why lawmakers need to be focusing their energy in other places.
“The goal needs to be making Illinois more competitive and making fewer people dependent on SNAP,” he said. “Right now, we’re growing SNAP recipients while every other neighboring state is shrinking the number of people it has in the program.”