Louisville, Ky.-based Yum! Brands has been making its case in the Kentucky state capitol of Frankfort to allow food stamp payments at its restaurants.
Specifically, the company is hoping to authorize these payments for the elderly, disabled or homeless. States that have adopted this idea include Michigan, Arizona and parts of California.
According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, Yum!, parent company of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, registered last month to lobby this cause to Governor Steve Beshear and his administration in Frankfort.
The company has presented its case to the Kentucky Restaurant Association and the Louisville Urban League, both of which have endorsed Yum!'s proposal. Those in support claim the move would be good for business, and would provide better access to meals to those who are often underserved.
Many others have expressed vehement opposition and concern regarding the possible policy change. Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, told the Courier-Journal that he recognizes the advantage of prepared meals for the elderly, homeless or disabled, but doesn't believe offering them "the most unhealthy food in America" is an appropriate remedy.
Paul Carothers, Yum!'s vice president for government affairs, argued that food stamps can already be used at grocery stores to purchase low nutritional items such as soda and candy bars.
Susan Zepeda, president of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, questioned the timing of the introduction, as funding for programs such as Meals on Wheels is being cut.
The Courier-Journal stated that Papa John's, another Louisville-based company, is also exploring the proposal.
It is estimated that about 814,000 Kentuckians participate in the food stamp program.
An overwhelming amount of comments to The Courier-Journal's story were opposed to the proposal. Judydd said it would be a "very wrong" decision: "KFC may want to 'up' its profit margin but it should not be on the backs of taxpayers and to the detriment of the health of the people using food stamps to buy these meals."
Some argued that food stamp recipients should be allowed to purchase necessities such as soap, shampoo and toilet paper before they're able to purchase pizza or what some called "luxury" items. One reader said it will affect Yum!'s bottom line as "nobody who votes and pays taxes will buy KFC with this kind of shenanigan."
Others, however, were supportive of the proposed measure. Celnich said, "Elderly people need options to have a nice, KFC buffet which has greens, corn, green beans, salad and all for $8 which is far better a meal than they could buy the things to make it with. I work with senior adults, and I think it is an excellent idea. Diabetics know, if they follow general guidelines, what they can have ... Being able to use (food stamps) in a restaurant takes away the discrimination for these groups of being forced to eat only from what they can get at a grocery, consume at home and not be able to eat in a place with others."
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