Oliver Anthony Was Right: More Than $25 Billion in Food Stamps Spent on Junk Food, Study Finds


(Ken Silva, Headline USA) Overnight music sensation Oliver Anthony has taken some flak for a line in Rich Men North of Richmond where he sings, “Well, God, if you’re 5-foot-3 and you’re 300 pounds, taxes ought not to pay for our bags of fudge rounds.”

But it turns out, Anthony has a point.

According to a recent study from the Cato Institute, about 25 percent of food stamps are spent towards junk food. Federal spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is about $145 billion per year, so that would mean America’s roughly 42 million food stamp recipients spend about more than $60 million per year on chips, candy, pastries and—yes—fudge rounds.

“SNAP’s 42 million recipients have less healthy diets and are more obese than other Americans, including low‐​income Americans not on SNAP. Almost one‐​quarter of food purchases by SNAP households are for junk food, which contradicts extensive federal efforts to promote healthy diets,” Cato said.

“A 2016 USDA study using point‐​of‐​sale data found that 23 percent of purchases by SNAP households were sugary drinks, desserts, salty snacks, candy, and sugar, which is generally called junk food.”

Cato raised alarms about the recent drastic spending in SNAP, which more than doubled from $63 billion in 2019 to an estimated $145 billion in 2023.

Some of the increase was temporary during the COVID-19 pandemic, but some recent changes to SNAP are permanent, Cato said.

“Benefits are adjusted annually for inflation, and recent high inflation has boosted benefit levels,” Cato noted.

The increased spending comes amidst soaring obesity rates. With obesity rates higher among poor people, it’s even more important for SNAP benefits to be geared towards nutritional meals, Cato argued.

“SNAP was originally aimed at alleviating hunger, but subsidizing all calories makes little sense today,” the think tank said.

According to Cato, adult men in SNAP have a higher obesity rate (37 percent) than low‐​income nonrecipient men (32 percent). Adult women in SNAP also have a higher obesity rate (52 percent) than low‐​income nonrecipient women (40 percent).

Cato also criticized SNAP because it’s making bureacrats’ pockets fat.

“Federal and state food stamp administration consumes $12 billion a year,” Cato said.

“That means $12 billion going to government employees, not to SNAP recipients.”

Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.