In a new blog by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, they highlight why the Senate, as it considers the Agriculture Committee’s farm bill this week, should avoid a provision in the House-passed farm bill that would let SNAP participants use their benefits to buy dietary supplements, such as multivitamins.
There is a scientific consensus that people should meet their nutritional needs mainly through the food they eat. Vitamin and mineral supplements, as their name suggests, are meant to complement a food diet. For SNAP recipients, who face limited budgets, their spending on dietary supplements would likely substitute for food. SNAP benefits are already modest, averaging just $1.50 per person per meal in NYS, so diverting food spending to supplements — which can be costly and are not regulated in a way that guarantees their efficacy — could leave participants hungry without improving their nutrition.
A more effective way to improve SNAP participants’ nutrition would be to make the SNAP benefit more adequate.