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“Rich Men North of Richmond” Takes Aim at the Junk Food Lobby

Posted on Monday, August 21, 2023
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by Sam Adolphsen
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AMAC Exclusive – By Sam Adolphsen

A plate full of junk food and soda next to a food stamp program application with pen

Singer Oliver Anthony struck a chord with the American people through his out-of-nowhere smash hit, “Rich Men North of Richmond.” He also struck a blow to welfare expansion and sugar lobbies in D.C.

In case you still haven’t heard about it (and there aren’t many of you left), Anthony’s bluegrass ballad captured the attention of the nation by relying on the age-old recipe for success in country music – three chords and the truth.

But what truth? The corruption and greed of our nation’s elite circles was certainly a prominent theme in the song. But Anthony also sprinkled in a fully justified frustration with the rampant abuse of the food stamp program – a program funded by hard-working American taxpayers like him. America’s newest music sensation sang what most rational Americans think, that “taxes ought not to pay for your bags of fudge rounds.”

They ought not to, but American taxpayers are in fact buying fudge rounds, even for the obese. We are also buying soda, and candy, and energy drinks by the billions.

The food stamp program has exploded in cost. Why? The Biden administration gave a massive raise to those with a food stamp card, a move that was probably illegal.

During President Trump’s administration, the total cost of food stamps had actually decreased to $60 billion a year – a reflection of the fact that, due to a resurgent economy, many people once again became self-reliant and got off the program entirely. But in 2023 the cost of the program will have more than doubled, totaling close to $130 billion. It turns out that it does make a difference which “rich man north of Richmond” is in charge of the food stamp program.

What exactly does an extra $70 billion in food stamp money buy? Not exactly nutrition and nutrition alone. A lot of fudging fudge rounds. And even more soda.

Junk food being bought with food stamps isn’t just a clever lyric for a proud hillbilly crooner and ticked-off taxpayers. It is a not-so-sweet matter of fact.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, soda was the number one item purchased by people on food stamps. More than 5 percent of purchases by food stamp recipients were for “soft drinks.” Sweetened beverages, prepared desserts, and salty snacks were all among the top 10.

To be fair, “fudge round” specific data isn’t available, because the release of more specific information on how food stamps are used has been blocked by lawsuits from powerful junk food industry lobbyists.

But we do know that “snack cake – multi packs” are the 20th most common purchased item with food stamps. For people buying food with their own hard-earned money, fudge rounds and other “snack cake” purchases come in at 63rd.

Why hasn’t this outrageous waste been stopped? The short answer is: rich men north of Richmond.

Oliver Anthony probably wasn’t following Maine politics in 2017, but the state tried to ban the use of food stamps for junk food at the time. (Full disclosure, I helped with the effort.) The federal government in Washington denied that request.

Other similar requests have been rejected over the years, and there are very few limits to what can be purchased with food stamps.

Even polls conducted by left-wing outfits show that voters of every party agree there should be restrictions. So, who is it that doesn’t want to ban soda and candy from being bought with your tax dollars?

Another hard truth is that much of the blame lies with different rich men south of Richmond.

Coca-Cola does not want to see that sweet stream of food stamp money slow down. Neither does Pepsi. Or Little Debbie. Or Frito-Lay. Or Wal-Mart. Or Amazon. Or Dollar General. All southern corporations. All of them spending big bucks on lobbyists in Washington.

Coke and Pepsi alone spent $12 million lobbying to block food stamp changes during the Trump administration. They also partnered up with other junk food groups to funnel money to welfare expansion groups that advocated for more money for the food stamp program overall.

The sugar money worked. There are no junk food bans, and food stamps will cost $1.5 trillion over the next ten years.

There is an opportunity this year for Congress to make changes to the food stamp program. But the signals seem to be that they won’t ban fudge rounds, energy drinks, or anything else.

Nonetheless, there is at least some momentum for reform, including leadership from Senator Marco Rubio on the issue.

If Congress won’t act, a future president could simply let states take action by approving their requests to stop allowing junk food purchases.

Hopefully those presidential hopefuls were asking around in Iowa while they were stumping for precious caucus votes. Most Iowa voters support banning junk food from being purchased with food stamps.

Anthony’s rise to fame came out of nowhere. Perhaps the number one hit song in the country can similarly spur some unexpected action to rid the food stamp program of its notorious junk food addiction.

 Sam Adolphsen is the policy director at the Foundation for Government Accountability, and the former Chief Operating Officer for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services where he oversaw welfare eligibility and fraud investigations.

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"FED" up
"FED" up
10 months ago

And while we’re at it, drug testing for food stamps and any welfare money. If I have to have a drug test to keep my job, and can lose it if I fail a random test, who do people who are the beneficiaries of my hard earned tax dollar not held to the same requirements?

PaulE
PaulE
10 months ago

The purpose of food stamps is supposed to be to provide access to healthy, essential foods to people of very low incomes. All so they can maintain a healthy metabolism as they get work on getting off the public dole and returning to being a productive and self-sustaining member of society. Obviously, the sort of junk foods referenced in this article promote both obesity and a myriad of health issues. Which in turn leads to food stamp recipients being an even greater drain on society as their medical care increases and the public has to pick-up that tab via Medicaid / Obamacare.

One would think most people would support banning most, if not all, junk foods from the approved list of foods eligible under Food Stamps. However, we live in increasingly strange times. A large percentage of the U.S. population now wants government to essentially run their lives (socialism / Marxism) and our professional political class, which is more centered on personal enrichment than public service, is more than willing to entertain the financial overtures from the various lobbyists that reside on K Street in Washington, D.C.. In short, while changes should be made to the Food Stamp program in this area, the probability of any such changes occurring near-term is zero. Nice article though.

S. Gold
S. Gold
10 months ago

And let’s cut out the LobstersScallops, King crab legs and Porter house and T bone steaks bought in bulk. I work for a living and can’t afford them. The rest of US are eating hamburger hellper so can they!!.

Lieutenant Beale
Lieutenant Beale
10 months ago

Get a job so you can stock your basement with all the junk food you want.

Sharon Ormsby
Sharon Ormsby
10 months ago

It’s horribly wrong for us to be paying for junk food for anyone. It used to go for milk, cheese, beans, vegetables, fruits, eggs. If any was left over, then meat,

Terri
Terri
10 months ago

The food industry and pharmaceutical industries want people to get fat and sick. I stick to organic, grass fed and non GMO as much as I can. I know they can be expensive. Another rule is look for items with the least ingredients.

Thinking
Thinking
10 months ago

Years ago candy and sodas and cookies nor tobacco or liquor could be bought with food stamps. But now in order to reach equity and inclusion it is now allowed.
School district allow trans kids to transition without telling their parents all in the name of equity and non discrimination. What about the parents. Are they not discriminated against with these explanations. The children are not the states children although ole Joe sees it that way.
Getting people obese is what they are working on by promoting fat and obesity is in. And we are all paying for it. Teaching them good nutrition is not an idea that comes up by the dems.
Like we who pay for our own ding dongs buy this every day. But everything in the name of equity. Which is a joke and will never be reached. Only by mandates by ole Joe.

CLIFFORD F GERACI
CLIFFORD F GERACI
10 months ago

Terrible, just Terrible. The amount of corruption and aberration stemming from the Socialist liberal left is just astounding. And the majority of the American people continue to vote them into power because they cater to their crass and avarice human nature of getting something for nothing continuing the downward spiral of our nation….just terrible.

Rik
Rik
10 months ago

I came from a poor family only because my very talented father couldn’t stay away from alcohol, smoking and wayward women. My mother had to put up with him because of 5 young kids. Once the 3 oldest were working she was able to divorce him even though she didn’t get any financial support, she finally got liberated. She even was able to work 18 years in a factory. My mother was a “Saint” having to survive that man. She sure “earned” a place in Heaven! We kids became better adults because of my mother and how she handled her life with her husband. She came from a large family, they helped some but always resented it. His family didn’t because his mother said: “you knew how he was when you married him, you made your bed, now you sleep in it!” I always resented that my early life was such a struggle but only because of my father! As I already stated: ” My mother was a Saint!”

jocko
jocko
10 months ago

ONLY ONE SURE AND PERMANENT WAY TO STOP THE CANCEROUS, ANTI-AMERICAN, CHEATING, LYING, libs AND IT’S NOT THRU ELECTIONS………

Mal
Mal
10 months ago

The culprit is deficit spending. We need to force having a balanced budget every year. These things couldn’t happen if we did. Congress spends our hard earned money, or worse yet, gives it away to other countries, even some that hate us! Instead of electing attorneys and political science majors, we should elect accountants, CPA’s, & MBA’s.

Betty Starke
Betty Starke
10 months ago

It’s not about the junk food , but the willingness of the rich men north of Richmond to pretend it’s their government and not WeThe People electing them . They are supposed to do what is outlined in the constitution. We are supposed to be moral and virtuous, endowed by our creator, not jumping hurdles for k street and Wall Street to comply with the sell off to the donor class. Disgusting what a mockery they have made of us in God’s eyes.

TPS
TPS
10 months ago

The only person who tried to change things for the better of our country and use of our taxes, has been under attack 24/7/365 since he was elected, by dems, leftist, rino’s, msm and most politicians that keep filling their own pockets. IMO

Morbious
Morbious
10 months ago

Coke and other soft drinks have been around for a long time. Same with chips and snack cakes. Yet there were few 300lb people. Diabetes wasnt an epidemic. When i was a kid in the sixties we played with our shirts off and you could see your friends ribs. There was a hollow below the ribs. I vividly recall hotdogs for school lunches with a hostess snack cake for dessert. There have been physical fitness initiatives launched down thru the decades but as long as kids arent running around playing after school this problem will persist. Im going out on a limb here, but imo after school sports have substituted for play activities that burn far more calories. Parents are terrified their kids will ‘miss out’ if they dont join the soccer team. But then dinners going to be chicken nuggets from a drive thru. The business of children is play. Piaget.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
10 months ago

In my 20s, I knew (too) many otherwise healthy ppl, including males, who were unemployed, not looking, who lived on public assistance on a permanent basis. “Living” meaning they traded them for drugs (meth, pot) or bought low cost items then used the change (paid in currency) to buy them (or alcohol). For those claiming there is no “abuse”, I beg to differ since I’ve seen it!

Jerry
Jerry
10 months ago

No junk food should be bought with food stamps. Email or call your congressman. If enough people do it might be effective.

George Hunter
George Hunter
10 months ago

Great song and great lyrics with a punch to the gut where it should placed onto the overlords of this radical government!! “We The People”.. are completely FED UP TO THE CORE with the ignorant policies of this administration and its idiotic CORRUPTION! These folks in D.C. actually think that the American people are THAT STUPID and NAIVE to what is going on? The dopey discussion of saying that inflation is not in America and that Russia created this fuel shortage is so bogus that it hurts!!! Foolish political weaponization of the law enforcing agencies is wrong and will come back to blow up in the face of this administration.

MariaRose
MariaRose
10 months ago

Those who receive SNAP benefits receive it in today’s age via an account that is linked ( deposited to bank based account. They have multiple options on how to spend that money (funds) —both using the card and withdrawing cash—the registers at most supermarkets is able to differentiate between foods that are deemed eligible and costs that have to be paid in cash—which means, yeah they can buy the soda and the sweet drinks with SNAP funds but they also have to pay the bottle deposit and tax on those purchases in cash. It is ridiculous what are the food choices made by people especially for the some who seem to have such a large SNAP benefit every month. Part of the problem is that they are not encouraged to become self-sufficient without needing SNAP benefits because it’s easier to be dependent on getting them than actually earning the money. And over time time they assume they are entitled to the benefits as a give right rather than realize it is only a temporary benefit. Remove the permanency by at least yearly re-evaluate all individual cases using benefits. If they are that dependent—( disabled, elderly, etc) those individuals will be red-lined with no problem—But able-bodied individuals should be evaluated.

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
10 months ago

Junk Food everyplace
Disguised
Like adding syrup to pineapple fruit cups NO
Nationwide

Granny26
Granny26
10 months ago

Maybe they should go back to giving them rice, cheese, etc instead of food stamps to buy junk food??

Sandra Yorde
Sandra Yorde
10 months ago

No cable TV, cigarettes, alcohol, junk food, etc. All benefit choices of those who work.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase
10 months ago

Following WWII there were many folks in need of a hand-up. Those needs were largely filled by rations of “Government Surplus” food. Such items as canned meat, bulk cheese, large cans of peanut butter, etc. Don’t recall any Little Debbies.
No family I know of considered the help an enduring lifestyle. We just got help as hungry children. Everyone was working on finding a job or going to school to be employable after the big war.
The FED should not be in the welfare business. This is state territory. FED may have surplus food to share with states but the administration should be all state. FED control = lobbyist control. Those junk food lobbyists are not concerned with good health or the condition of folks in need of help. They are the CRT proponents for Welfare. Just keep the junk flowing and make the buck.
Long past time to get these programs out of the FED. Mismanagement and corruption are the products of FED control.

Kim
Kim
10 months ago

After moving to rural North Carolina, I discovered that grocery shopping was limited to a few independents and chain stores, and the big Walmart. Costco (50 minutes away) and Walmart are where I buy most groceries if I can’t grow the stuff myself. This Walmart has an impressive selection of organic produce and good-looking conventionally grown greens and vegetables. So, it’s not as if produce and other healthy choices are unavailable.
I restarted my horticulture business to sell herbs, vegetable transplants, and other plants at local farmers’ markets. But what customers buy or don’t buy is telling. Where I used to live, outside Washington, D.C., there was high demand for the healthy greens (lots of brassicas); I could barely keep seasonal plants in stock. Many of our customers were from other countries where they obviously ate more greens and vegetables. Here, it has been an uphill climb to get customers to try gai lan or miniature broccoli ‘Happy Rich’. Colorful lettuces and mustard greens sell fairly well, and once they catch on to how easy they are to raise, they come back for more. But most Walmart shoppers do not shop at farmers’ markets. That’s totally foreign to them.
To see what people are filling their carts with, though, is very disheartening. Packs of soda and energy drinks line the rim of the cart and fill the lower shelf. I often see carts filled to the brim with 100% junk food–the sugary drinks, chips, boxes of Little Debbie and Hostess, horribly sweetened children’s cereals, sliced cookies in clear clamshell packaging. Once in a while, I’ll spot sliced and spiced prepared meats.
A few weeks ago, a middle-aged couple had chosen these kinds of foods. There was not one vegetable (frozen or fresh), no eggs or milk, no whole grains, not even fish sticks. How does anyone survive on a diet like that? Now, I’m not as thin as I was 50 years ago, but they each weighed at least 2 of me.
Yes, we live in a society where we’re free to make those decisions for ourselves. But when taxpayers end up paying for these purchases and for the medical care they surely will require, while raising our own insurance rates, then regulations must limit what food stamps can be used for.

Paul Davis
Paul Davis
10 months ago

Many people sell their food stamps or trade them for all manner of drugs, legal or otherwise, and all manner of other things not eligible. Convenience stores/truck stops put eligible, high profit or overpriced eligible products on end caps and other unavoidable places in their stores with signs advising that those products are eligible. Totally legal and as the liberals intended.

Terry K
Terry K
10 months ago

I agree with this article, it’s getting so out of whack, with enough money your able to buy these politicians

Alex
Alex
10 months ago

Oliver Anthony is a hero

Michael Lewis
Michael Lewis
10 months ago

The article says the expansion of this program is probably illegal. So, the American public is to swallow this, just like an illegally open border and illegal forgiveness of student loans?
Are we to believe justice is dead or only applies to conservatives? When is lawlessness a call for action? When is the House going to effectively use their one weapon, the budget, to defund this nonsense?

Liz
Liz
10 months ago

This song refers to those NOT working and NOT made to attempt employment while receiving EBT for food. If you are not active and eating the crap that people are buying w/th their gov..food card..they get overweight as in FAT!!!!!!!!!!!! I see TOO many people in the low income area that are really fat as in their as* and belly being HUGE and bounce or FLOP. It’s so unhealthy and WE pay for their medical. It’s disgusting. Really.
I have seen a magazine that Glorifies this turbo body and this is NOT Healthy or attractive
They are leeches on society. On YOUR own dime..ok..but NOT public funds!!.

Liz
Liz
10 months ago

Many YEARS ago If you received Food Stamps they would only allow you to buy NUTRICIOUS foods such as OJ,Milk , cheese etc. NOW, you can but snack foods , soda’s and candy and nothing HEALTHY..WHY? The purpose is to eat healthy and it’s OUR tax $$$ that buy your foods.
All races and genders can eat HEALTHY FOODS.

REB1957
REB1957
9 months ago

It’s time to cross-match the welfare databases with vehicle registration databases as residential addresses. I’d be willing to bet that we could cut our welfare program by billions annually simply by cross-matching data.

Shirley
Shirley
10 months ago

I agree with Fed Up with regard to food stamps. I also believe people should be able to only buy healthy foods.

Sgt Erle Mutz - USMC
Sgt Erle Mutz - USMC
10 months ago

Oliver Anthony has been the best thing to happen to WAKE UP AMERICA, as to the Woke agenda and “overly Liberal” policies that have devastated our country. More than only Americans are identifying and relating to his soulful words of truth!

Lauramerrone
Lauramerrone
10 months ago

Only Amazon is north of Richmond so that is the one exception… And we know the elites just want us all to die and die quickly so this is speeding up the process…

Country bumps
Country bumps
10 months ago

Tell that hillbilly with his banjo to stay off his sister instead.

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