Restaurants Lobby for Food Stamps Business

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Some fast food restaurant owners want to target customers who receive food stamps. They're lobbying Congress to allow them to accept the stamps as payment.

Currently, federal rules prohibit the use of food stamps for prepared foods.

The United States Department of Agriculture estimates 45 million people in the U.S. are currently receiving assistance under the department's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

USDA records show food stamp benefits swelled from $28.5 billion to $64.7 billion in a five-year period from 2005 to 2010.

That kind of business potential has many restaurant owners licking their chops.

USA Today reported Wednesday that Yum! Brands, the Louisville, Ky.-based company that owns Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut, is lobbying to allow food stamps at their restaurants.

Many anti-hunger advocates welcome the move but some public health advocates worry about the risks.

They say it would encourage people to eat more fast food - food they believe is bad for your health.

"It's preposterous that a company like Yum! Brands would even be considered for inclusion in a program meant for supplemental nutrition," Kelly Brownell, director of Yale's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, told the newspaper.

"They think going hungry is better?" asked Edward Cooney, with the Congressional Hunger Center.

"I'm solidly behind what Yum! is doing," he said.

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