Julia NYT Op-Ed | Teachers College Columbia University

Skip to content Skip to main navigation
TFC Banner

Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy

Skip to content Skip to content

Policy Analyst Julia McCarthy Responds to NYT Article on SNAP Purchases

Her letter points out that a misleading headline obscures the truth about our country's food system challenges.

Anahad O’Connor’s article analyzing a recent USDA report, entitled “In the Shopping Cart of a Food Stamp Household: Lots of Soda,” wrongly suggests that sugar sweetened beverage (SSB) purchases are a problem confined to SNAP participants.  SSB purchases are a population-wide problem.

Why do consumers spend so much on SSBs?  We have a food system that makes these products prevalent, popular, and cheap. A variety of factors, including subsidies and lobbying, enable companies to easily produce and market SSBs.

This year, PepsiCo will spend $1.7 billion marketing unhealthy beverages.  In contrast, the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, the agency responsible for helping U.S. consumers make good food choices, will receive $9 million—half a percent of PepsiCo’s marketing budget—to cover all expenses. 

Education, affordability, and access are key to healthy eating. USDA’s report shows that people who have money and access to healthy foods also make unhealthy choices. With this in mind, officials should focus on measures that, for all consumers, make it easier to understand the harms SSBs cause and harder to purchase.   


Julia McCarthy, J.D.

Published Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017

Policy Analyst Julia McCarthy Responds to NYT Article on SNAP Purchases

Anahad O’Connor’s article analyzing a recent USDA report, entitled “In the Shopping Cart of a Food Stamp Household: Lots of Soda,” wrongly suggests that sugar sweetened beverage (SSB) purchases are a problem confined to SNAP participants.  SSB purchases are a population-wide problem.

Why do consumers spend so much on SSBs?  We have a food system that makes these products prevalent, popular, and cheap. A variety of factors, including subsidies and lobbying, enable companies to easily produce and market SSBs.

This year, PepsiCo will spend $1.7 billion marketing unhealthy beverages.  In contrast, the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, the agency responsible for helping U.S. consumers make good food choices, will receive $9 million—half a percent of PepsiCo’s marketing budget—to cover all expenses. 

Education, affordability, and access are key to healthy eating. USDA’s report shows that people who have money and access to healthy foods also make unhealthy choices. With this in mind, officials should focus on measures that, for all consumers, make it easier to understand the harms SSBs cause and harder to purchase.   


Julia McCarthy, J.D.

How This Gift Connects The Dots
 
Scholarships & Fellowships
 
Faculty & Programs
 
Campus & Technology
 
Financial Flexibility
 
Engage TC Alumni & Friends