Pro Athletes’ Ads Favor Less Healthful Food, Drinks

Replacing Food Stamps With Cash Is a Terrible Idea

By some estimates, food stamps lead to over-purchases of food equal to about 15 percent of total benefits. If so, the $75 billion annual food-stamp program generates more than $11 billion in extra food spending. This was a huge reason legislators from farm states — most of them Republicans — were once such ardent proponents of food stamps: It was a hefty goodie for their agriculture constituents on top of the roughly $25 billion in explicit annual government handouts for agriculture. If food stamps were converted to a cash benefit it’s likely that the overspending — and thus a big piece of ag-industry pork — would diminish or disappear. What’s more, Yglesias says, the voucher system we now have breeds fraud and corruption, a standard plaint of Republicans. (In an amusing aside, he describes how some years ago he used to buy cigarettes — which can’t be purchased with the vouchers — for a neighbor who was on food stamps, who in turn bought him boxes of Diet Coke. Food-stamp fraud alert.) Hold on a minute. Studies suggest that fraud is modest, equal to about 1 percent of the program’s spending. That’s still a lot of money, but as a percentage of the total it’s minor. Furthermore, fraud has gotten harder ever since benefits have been issued on electronic-benefit transfer cards, which operate like debit cards at the grocery store. What’s more, drawbacks to doling out cash are real and fly in the face of the moral component of receiving a government benefit. Aid comes with strings attached as part of the goal of inducing behavior that’s deemed socially beneficial.

Food Prices: One Year After

An expected 13 percent increase in world cereal closing stocks should drive up the global stock-to-use ratio to 23.3 percent, the highest since 2003. If the expected increases in stock-to-use ratios are confirmed, then the markets will have greater resilience to any shocks and price volatility should be restrained It is also important to recognize the role of global governance in this positive development, by increasing transparency, market information and helping control factors that had led to price spikes before. The Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) played an important role in making this happen. Set up by the G20 in 2011 with a multi-agency secretariat hosted by FAO, AMIS provided timely and reliable information, increasing transparency in the international food market and assuring better coordination between the main players to reduce market instability and unilateral action. The United Nations System also granted the issue high priority. The UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Task Force on Global Food Security repeatedly and energetically called for calm and coordination, contributing to contain price increases. The reformed Committee on World Food Security — that will session starting Monday October 7 — has proven its value as the most inclusive forum to discuss food security and, in a landmark achievement, endorsed last year the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security . Among many other initiatives, last October FAO hosted a ministerial summit to discuss food prices, co-organized with the Government of France who played a leading role in establishing AMIS. In 2007-8, increased use of maize for biofuel production was pressuring food prices, excessive speculation on futures markets accentuated price volatility and panic buying and export restrictions led to prices spinning out of control. But, in 2012, these elements were generally controlled and good sense prevailed in markets. The importance of linkages between food and energy markets has been recognized and the costly biofuel policies implicated in pushing up food prices in recent years are being questioned in a number of countries, including the USA.

Food banks that churches count on are challenged by rising demand, spoilage issues

Researchers tracked endorsements by the top 100 athletes as identified by Bloomberg Businessweek’s 2010 Power 100 rankings. It ranks athletes according to their endorsement value and prominence in their sport. Of 513 brands endorsed by the top 100 athletes: – 24% were in the food and beverage category, second to the sporting goods or apparel category, which accounted for 28% of endorsed brands. – 79% of 62 food products endorsed were high-calorie and poor in nutrients. – 93% of 46 advertised drinks got 100% of calories from added sugar. Sports beverages represented the largest category of endorsements (39), followed by soft drinks (21) and fast food (16). The study focused solely on 2010 data and does not address how the athletes’ endorsements may have changed since then. It was designed “as an exploratory study of what the landscape looks like,” says Bragg. NBA star James had the most food and beverage endorsements, including Sprite, McDonald’s and Powerade. Manning was second, with endorsements including Gatorade and Pepsi-Cola. Williams was third, with Kraft Oreo, Gatorade, Nabisco 100 Calorie Pack Snacks and Got Milk. A score was generated for each athlete based on his or her Power 100 ranking, the number of ads and food endorsements, the highest percentage of food endorsements compared with other endorsements, and the healthfulness of each food and beverage endorsed. Where 1 is the worst possible score and 100 the best, Manning topped that list at 28.9, followed by Williams (32.4) and James (42.7). Data showed baseball player Ryan Howard endorsed the fewest high-calorie, nutrition-poor food products; his total score was 71.3.

Video Bishop Godfrey Nwaneri of Divine Grace Mission discusses what it’s like to work closely with a food bank to feed those in need. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post) – Gerri Magruder, executive director of Helping Hands Ministry at the First Baptist Church of Capitol Heights, is pictured at the Capitol Area Food Bank. We try to shop very close to the distribution day so the perishables would not spoil, said Nwaneri, who hands out food on the first Saturday of every month. The Maryland pastor is part of a network of more than 500partner agencies that distribute 45 million pounds of food to more than 500,000 people across the Washington area each year. And although the distribution includes bread, cereal and canned goods, there is increasing focus among church food banks to supply fresh vegetables and meat for the good health of those in need. Fresh food thats the key to lowering high blood pressure and diabetes, said Jeri Bailey, director of the food pantry at the Dupont Park Seventh-Day Adventist Church, who was at the food bank the same day as Nwaneri. We prepare bags for 130families a week that includes a meat, fresh greens, canned goods and other items, Bailey said. But the distribution of fresh food means extra attention must be paid to ensuring that the donated perishables dont spoil. Nearly 36 million tons of food were wasted nationally in 2011, said Nancy Roman, president of the Capital Area Food Bank. Roman recently helped organize a summit in Alexandria to address how local churches and organizations can reduce food spoilage. Participants included Ben Simon, founder of the Food Recovery Network at the University of Maryland; Elise H. Golan, director for sustainable development at the Department of Agriculture; Tom ODonnell, an environmental scientist for the Environmental Protection Agency; and Meghan Stasz, director of sustainability for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents such major brands as Kraft, General Mills and Nestle. Food waste is getting some attention from federal agencies, but [the summit] really connected it to people serving in the communities to begin a conversation that is needed in our region, Roman said in an interview.