A majority of people on government food programs get their food from large grocery stores according to a new report, which means they have a wide variety of foods available. More than 82 percent of SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps) are redeemed at supermarkets and superstores according to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Retailer Policy and Management Division 2012 Annual Report.
$74 billion in client benefits were redeemed in the more than 246,000 participating stores, farmers’ markets, direct marketing farmers, homeless meal providers, treatment centers, group homes, and others authorized to accept SNAP. Supermarkets and superstores made up about 15 percent of the firms allowed to redeem SNAP benefits but continue to redeem the majority of them. In 2012, Michigan had 10,060 authorized firms to redeem SNAP benefits, those firms redeemed nearly $3 billion dollars worth of benefits.
But despite recent criticisms by people saying the SNAP recipients waste their food stamps on high-sugar foods and drinks, The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that most food expenditures by people on SNAP are of the healthy variety. A 2005 study found that 35 percent of SNAP benefits went toward meats and meat alternatives, 20 percent went to grains, another 20 percent to fruits and vegetables, 12 percent to dairy, while only 13 percent went toward other foods. Not unlike the foods purchased by people not on the SNAP program.