Proposal would let some food stamps be used at restaurants - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Proposal would let some food stamps be used at restaurants

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Controversy has exploded over this one question: Should some people on food stamps, who can't make their own meals, be allowed to use food stamps at restaurants, including fast-food places? It's a proposal that the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services is considering.

"The cost will be immeasurable," said Reverend Gerome Sutton. "The damage will be insufferable and the timing is unthinkable."

Sutton is fired up and protesting a proposal to allow some people on food stamps to use them at restaurants around Kentucky. Backed by Louisville-based Yum! Brands, the idea behind the program is to allow the elderly, disabled and homeless a way to get a hot meal, but Sutton sees another potential outcome

"Can you imagine the unthinkable harm that it will do to our community that people eat in these fast food establishments?" Sutton said. "It will affect the health and well-being of our community and drive up the cost of healthcare for the state."

"People now already have the opportunity to go into a grocery store or a gas station and buy potato chips and pop with their food stamps," said Natalie Harris, executive director of the Coalition for the Homeless. "What this would allow them is instead of buying potato chips and pop, is to get a warmed up meal."

Harris backs the proposal and has for 20 years, long before Yum! Brands got involved.

"It's not just one company or one business that's pushing it," she said.

According to Harris, the benefits far outweigh any potential health problems.

"What we want is some way for people to have more choices and those choices may still lead to them not choosing the healthiest food, but I think the more choices you give people, the more likely they will chose a good choice," Harris said.

As for the people who use food stamps, they had mixed reaction.

"I think it would be too tempting," said Sherry Lanoie. "I would be wanting to go eat out all the time and wouldn't have any money for groceries."

"It would be a wonderful thing," countered Lillian Phillips. "With six grandchildren and you know, I'm 55 years old, not wanting to cook all the time and I have to. So that would help me a lot."

Yum! Brands would not do an interview with WAVE 3, but spokeswoman Virginia Ferguson released this statement to us:

"We support extending the federal SNAP restaurant meals program to the elderly, disabled and homeless because it will provide hot meals to hungry people that are unable to cook at home and we've explained this to Reverend Sutton on several occasions."

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services said no decision has been made on the proposal at this point.

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