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Health Department Chief Uneasy About Food Stamp Proposal

The acting director of Louisville’s health department says he concerned that allowing certain food stamp recipients to use the vouchers at fast food restaurants could send a mixed message about nutrition.Louisville-based Yum! Brands has been lobbying the Beshear administration to authorize food stamp use at restaurants by the disabled, elderly and homeless. The company owns the KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut fast food chains.The health department’s Dr. Matt Zahn says his agency has not taken an official position on the proposed policy change. He says many of those food stamp recipients are already dealing with health issues that could be made worse if they don’t make healthy food choices."We also know that fast food historically has been associated with the establishment of obesity and issues with obesity and all the medical issues that go along with that. So in terms of finding a peaceful coexistence, that’s going to be difficult to do," he said.Yum! Brands officials say their restaurants offer nutritional food options, and the change would give many recipients access to a hot meal that they otherwise may not have.

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation." Email Rick at rhowlett@lpm.org.

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