Department of Good Ideas


Back before Christmas, The Washington Post had a story about how the “Obama Administration May Tie Improved Nutrition to Food Assistance Programs.” In other words, instead of just ensuring that people have food (i.e., calories) they’d be trying to give people assistance in acquiring healthy food.

That would definitely be a good thing to do. Fortunately, the contemporary United States doesn’t have a substantial starvation problem. But unfortunately, we do have substantial problems around malnutrition and obesity. Our food assistance programs were designed in an earlier era when that balance of considerations was different, and were conceived in large part as a bailout of sorts for food producers rather than designed to best serve the interests of the programs’ clients. Reforming the system to help target people’s genuine food-related needs for better nutrition rather than more calories could do a great deal of good.