South Dakota’s Largest Newspaper Dealt A Blow Regarding Accessing SNAP Information
The Argus Leader Newspaper of South Dakota lost a legal round of battle against the US Government. The paper has been on a fact finding mission regarding the ‘Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program’ also refereed to by the acronym ‘SNAP’. The program run by the Department of Agriculture, assists needy Americans with buying food. It’s estimated that about 12.5 % of the American population is in the ‘SNAP’ program formally known as ‘food stamps.’ The paper was trying to find out, exactly how tax payer money is used on the program.
The USDA has steadfastly refused to turn over this information to the paper. The matter was heard by the United States Supreme Court, the court reached a decision earlier this week. The court sided with the businesses that were also named in the case and the government. The ruling states that the agency does not have to turn over the figures to any ‘persons or entity.’
Argus Newspaper Wanted To Know Exactly How Much Money Supermarkets Received From SNAP
The SNAP Program estimated to be a 65 billion dollar program yearly, is not required to release their operating costs. Reporters for the newspapers wanted a specific breakdown on exactly how much SNAP assistance is used in each supermarket in the country. They tried to access the information under ‘The Freedom Of Information Act.’ No dice, said the government and basically ignored all further requests by the newspaper. The director of news at the paper, Cory Meyers, released a statement regarding the ruling. The statement read in part. “We’re disappointed in today’s outcome, obviously. This is a massive blow to the public’s right to know how it’s tax dollars are being spent, and who is benefiting. Regardless, we will continue to fight for government openness and transparency as always.”
The Food Trade Association Also Weighed In On The Supreme Court Decision
Leslie Sarasin, the President of the Food Marketing Association which represents food retailers also reacted to the decision. Sarasin said that the focus of ‘FMI’ is to be active when dealing with various food trends. She also spoke about the privacy issues of customers who shop at various grocery stores throughout the county. She noted that grocery stores routinely keep the spending habits of customers regarding their spending habits private.
According to Sarasin, the spending data is private, ‘regardless of what form of payments a customer uses. SNAP, credit cards, debt cards cash or checks, all customers deserve privacy.’ Sarasin said that the ‘Freedom of Information Act’ has nothing to do with confidential financial information about customers. who shop at retail food stores. The ‘FMI’ president went on to say that customers expect a certain amount of privacy, even when it comes to what payments they use at the cash register. The USDA did try to offer the newspaper a compromise as far as their request. They offered to provide a list of nationwide stores that accept SNAP as payments.