We are in tough economic times. Gasoline prices are astronomical. Cooking gas and electricity costs are soaring. Food prices are increasing as well. As I pondered whether to buy the generic/store brand of canned tomatoes or the name-brand, I happened to notice the shopping cart of another young lady shopping with her children. Three cases of ramen noodles. Lots of hot dogs and chips. All the cereal was brand named and each one was sugar-sweeten-this or sugar-sweeten-that.

When I got ready to check out, the young lady was in front of me. When it came time for her to pay the bill, she pulled out her LINK card and paid for her groceries. What bothered me most was not that she paid for it with LINK, but that LINK allows my tax dollars to be used in that fashion.

This isn’t just about a personal decision to buy whatever one wants. It is also about a personal decision made with taxpayers’ dollars. In an era where our politicians are constantly imposing on our private lives, then why or how is it, with all the studies out directly linking salts and sugars in processed food to more and more health problems, that the government hasn’t stepped in and said no to certain foods being paid for with taxpayers’ dollars?

The original concept of food stamp programs was to give the poor help in accessing food. When advocating for it, politicians used the image of mothers buying milk, bread and nutritious food for their families. But when a young woman, who appears to be barely 25 years old, feeds her children ramen noodles and hot dogs, we have a sure-fire crisis brewing in that household. A child’s growing body cannot fuel itself off ramen noodles.

Sure, those noodles are fast to cook and cheap. But in an era where politicians want more money for schools, a child whose stomach is filled with salty foods and zero nutritional value cannot learn because their bodies are not running off the type of fuel that is conducive to learning. Who among you haven’t at one time or other seen someone argue with the clerk in a store about what they can and cannot buy with WIC? I have more than once been amused by a mother claiming her children don’t like Cheerios but love Fruit Loops.

But poor food choices for children are not the only ones being made. I watched as another woman, elderly and morbidly obese loaded up the cart portion of an electric, store-provided cart with packages of cinnamon rolls, processed meats and frozen pizzas.

Obesity is the fastest growing health problem in every age group in America. As a country, people aren’t getting fat eating rice and beans, which is a very nutritious meal. Rather they are getting fat off the calorie-laden food choices being made for children and by adults for themselves. Why cook a pot of greens when it’s faster to boil a hot dog? Why take an hour to fix spaghetti when ramen noodles take minutes. They’re both pasta, right?

There are health benefits to healthy eating. Those who want to eat whatever they want are free to spend their money as they see fit. But when the food is being paid for by taxpayers, we need to help families make positive choices by limiting their ability to make poor choices.

P.S. After my last column, the Save Our School website was finally updated to reflect their progress, something that should have been done immediately! Unfortunately, the site still doesn’t offer any links that can guide parents. Everyone should continue to monitor that website to keep abreast of their progress.