by Jessica Snyder
Bill 2051, introduced by Mesa Representative Kelly Townsend, will ban the use of EBT (electronic benefits transfer) cards at fast food restaurants. Not everyone who receives government assistance is able to use their EBT cards at fast food restaurants. It is strictly for the homeless, elderly and disabled. These individuals have a difficult time coming across a hot meal, which is why this is allowed in the first place.
“I’m okay with the program as it is. I think the food stamps program needs overhauled in general, but I think allowing homeless, disabled and elderly to use it to buy warm food is fine,” said Nick Ernst.
The bill has sparked controversy across the Internet. Many who support the bill have made the assumptions that those who are on EBT are lazy and unhealthy and should only be allowed to purchase healthy food. Others have opposed the bill and do not understand why the state would not allow anyone who is unable to cook for themselves the opportunity for a hot meal. Townsend is of the belief that allowing people to use their EBT card for fast food will result in raised Medicaid costs as a result of the unhealthy food served in these restaurants.
“ I do not know why people were ever allowed to use it at fast food restaurants anyway. My family doesn’t get that luxury and I work for my food money,” said Jennifer Brookline.
Hard times can fall on anyone. Anyone could wind up homeless or disabled. If people are unable to cook for themselves or pay to hire someone to cook for them, it is unfair that they go hungry or survive on boxed/canned foods. Prepackaged foods have just as many health concerns as fast food and realistically a burger from the dollar menu may allow people more options, as grocery store food is no longer inexpensive.
Letting the government dictate what people eat is a whole other issue that people should be wary of. First they take away the rights of those who are dependent on the assistance, and then who is next? Some argue that it’s different because it is taxpayer money that funds EBT. Many people in Arizona who are on EBT are hardworking individuals. In a right to work state, thousands of people are over-qualified and under-paid in their current positions. Not all who are on EBT are lazy and attempting to drain the system. Some people are just trying to make ends meet.
Whichever side of the debate you stand on, remember that just a little compassion can go a long way.