Yum! Brands Inc has announced it will end its efforts to allow low-income Americans to use food stamps at its U.S. restaurants after USDA expressed opposition.

“After discussions with program administrator and key legislators, we have decided not to further pursue the expansion of the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program’s (SNAP) Restaurant Meals Program to enable homeless, elderly, and disabled people to access restaurant food with their SNAP benefits,” Paul Carothers, vice president of government affairs, said in a statement.

SNAP is funded by the federal government and administered by individual state governments.  Yum! Brands had lobbied state officials in Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Florida, urging them to allow food stamps to be used in their restaurants.    However, “we understand there was little support for this initiative,” Carothers said.

Michigan is one of three states that allow certain food-stamp recipients to get hot meals at restaurants if they cannot prepare their own food.  The Detroit News reported recently that in the past year and a half, the number of restaurants approved to use Michigan’s Bridge Cards–debit-style cards–to serve food to recipients who are blind, homeless, or 60 years or older has grown to 105 restaurants from eight.  This represents an increase of 1,200 percent.  Michigan food stamp funding, over the last four years, has increased 128-percent to $2.8 billion in 2010, according to the Michigan Department of Human Services.

USDA maintains that the program “should promote access to healthy foods,” said Kevin Cannon, the undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services.

 

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