The USDA is cooking up ways to get the nation’s 47 million food stamp recipients to make healthier choices.

Some of the ideas include instant rebates and free movie tickets.


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Read background from the Washington Free Beacon:

The agency commissioned an “expert panel” to make recommendations on how to guide the more than 47 million Americans on food stamps into spending their benefits on fruits and vegetables.

The group released an 80-page report this month presenting their ideas, which include talking shopping carts and a marketing strategy for grocery chains that would feature better store lighting for healthier items.

“Most Americans, including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants, do not purchase enough whole grains, dark green and orange vegetables, and legumes, and purchase too many items with excess calories from fats and added sugars,” the report said.

“At the same time, the food retail environment is saturated with food marketing messages, including health and nutrition claims and information, advertisements, and promotions for many unhealthy food items,” it said.

Initial suggestions from the USDA on how to alter the grocery environment include stores offering “SNAP-Ed cooking classes” and consultations with dieticians.

“In this approach, the supermarket is the classroom and shoppers receive support on how to maximize their healthy choices using products retailers promote via the weekly store circular,” the report said.

Another idea included a point-based system where food stamp recipients could receive movie tickets in exchange for healthy food purchases. Grocery store staff could also be used as “ambassadors” for the USDA’s agenda.


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Today on “Cavuto on Business,” a panel weighed in on the ideas. Sandra Smith said this would incentivize people to stay home and collect food stamps.

Charlie Gasparino said that he has a problem with people who attack food stamp recipients, noting that the economy is in rough shape.

“It’s not about bashing the recipients, I think that this program actually insults the intelligence of the recipients, saying, ‘Hey, you know what? You’re too dumb to know the difference between a vegetable and something that is not good for you,’” Charles Payne said.


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Watch the panel debate above.