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Editor's Note
March 9, 2020

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—Do Not Take the Food Out of Patients’ Mouths

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Geriatrics, University of California, San Francisco
  • 2NYC Health and Hospitals, New York
JAMA Intern Med. 2020;180(4):605-606. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.7151

The editors appreciate this report1 for demonstrating that many people who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (food stamps) under extended eligibility are as much in need of help paying for food as those receiving SNAP benefits under standard eligibility. (Note that extended eligibility is available in some states for families who qualify for other state programs for people with low income.) However, the government is threatening to cut off people receiving the extended benefit, meaning that many of our patients currently receiving food assistance will go hungry. As physicians, with the authority to spend almost unlimited dollars on health care—much of which is not helpful—our inability to get patients the food they need is absurd. Nutrition is a key determinant of health. In the richest country in the world, at the richest time of its history, it is just wrong to let people go without food. SNAP benefits should be maintained for this broader group because clearly they deserve to be fed as much as those with standard eligibility.

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