Louisville-based Yum! Brands, which owns the KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell chains, wants the homeless, disabled and elderly to be able to pay for their meals with food stamps. The company registered last month to lobby the administration of Gov. Steve Beshear on the matter. Yum! executives have given to Beshear’s re-election campaign, The Courier-Journal‘s Tom Loftus notes.
“Under the federal food-stamp program, states may authorize (use of food stamps) by the elderly, disabled or homeless, who often have difficulty preparing meals,” Loftus writes. “Only Michigan, Arizona and parts of California have done so.”
“We think it’s a win-win,” said Paul Carothers, the company’s vice president for government affairs. “It’s obviously of interest from a business standpoint, and it provides access to the elderly, homeless and disabled who are often underserved.”
But state Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, told Loftus, “My concern is that so much of that food is the most unhealthy food in America … and it leads to obesity and all kinds of other health problems.”
Carothers said he did not see a difference between customers being able to pay for their meals at KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell with food stamps and being able to buy candy bars and soda at the grocery store, which is allowed. “The only thing they cannot use their benefits for … now are household products, alcohol, tobacco and those sorts of things,” Carothers said, adding that Yum! meals “stack up nutritionally quite well. For some of these people access to a restaurant may be their only opportunity for a hot meal.”
The Cabinet for Health and Family Services told Loftus that about 814,000 Kentuckians receive food stamps, but could not say what percentage are elderly, disabled or homeless. (Read more)