KCBS In Depth: Follow The Money Behind Food Stamps

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Man shopping for groceries. (Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

Man shopping for groceries. (Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Food stamps help feed the poor, but they also help to pad the bank accounts of some of the nation’s biggest food corporations. That’s according to a Bay Area activist who’s on a crusade to take junk food off the government assistance table.

As Congress debates cuts to the $72-billion dollar food stamp program, which is a huge part of the Farm Bill, attorney and author Michele Simon wants taxpayers to think about who’s benefiting most from the program. She said it’s the food makers, food retailers and banks who administer the program that have the most to lose. Simon is advocating change.

“There’s a status quo here that wants to be maintained, very strongly, by the likes of Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Mars Candy, Kraft, and the retailer segment that also benefits significantly from this program,” she claimed.

She thinks the program would be better if it promoted better nutrition instead of allowing the big food corporations to continue to sell junk food to poor people.

That’s angered not only the food industry, but anti-hunger groups as well.

“They will say to someone like me this is the absolutely wrong time to be bringing up any of these criticisms, that the program is vulnerable,” she suggested. “I say, you know what, the program is vulnerable. Let’s attack those vulnerabilities. Let’s face them head on.”

KCBS’ Dave Padilla Reports:

Simon runs the Oakland group Eat Drink Politics, and has issued a report called “Food Stamps: Follow the Money.”

You can hear KCBS In Depth, a weekly half-hour news interview, Saturdays at 5:30a.m. and Sundays at 8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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