Revolving Door: Lobbyists-Turned-USDA-Officials Work With Junk Food Industry to Keep Soda, Candy in SNAP Program (Sludge)
Two top USDA officials in charge of SNAP policy who previously lobbied for grocers, soda and snack food trade groups were in frequent communication with the groups’ chief lobbyists.
Lobbyists for major food industry trade groups have called upon former colleagues now at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help them stem changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program that would have limited sales of sugary drinks and other forms of junk food.
In late 2017 and early 2018, the USDA was considering SNAP waiver requests regarding the exclusion of soft drinks and candy from the program and a proposal that would send boxes of government-purchased food to people on food stamps, replacing much of their local grocery shopping.
Emails obtained by Sludge show frequent and friendly communication between recent industry lobbyists now working on SNAP policy at the USDA and leaders from the National Grocers Association—for which two current USDA officials previously lobbied—SNAC International—where one of these officials used to work—and the American Beverage Association.