Twitter Blows Up After Actress Keke Palmer Suggests Restricting Welfare EBT Cards To Healthy Food Only

Written by Ann Brown
Twitter Blows Up After Actress Keke Palmer Suggests Restricting Welfare EBT Cards To Healthy Food Only Photo: Keke Palmer attends the 2019 Angel Ball to benefit Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research at Cipriani Wall Street on Oct. 28, 2019, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Nearly 38 million people used SNAP benefits via the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in 2019, which included Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards.

So when actress Keke Palmer tweeted, “Imagine if your EBT card could only work on healthy items,” it caused a firestorm of backlash on Twitter.

EBT allows people to pay for food using SNAP benefits, and the cards are used in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam. The EBT cards can be used at a variety of places where food is sold including farmers’ markets and health food stores, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture.

While Palmer may have tried to be helpful in encouraging healthier eating habits, many lower-income earners who depend on SNAP live in food deserts.

Food deserts are areas where residents lack access to affordable, healthy food options such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Such options are “restricted or nonexistent due to the absence of grocery stores within convenient traveling distance,” according to the Food Empowerment Project.

On Twitter, one user responded to Palmer saying, “Imagine people living in a food desert.”

Another Twitter user invoked the reparations movement, commenting that reparations would afford Black people an opportunity to have money for healthy food without reliance on the government.

“Plz reevaluate your comment in light of the fact that we live in a sys of white supremacy. Imagine if Black folk had received . . . I’ll spell it Akeelah R E P A R A T I O N S. If we had, Blk folk would be in a financial posn 2 eat healthy food & own Whole Foods, Marianos, etc” one person tweeted.

Twitter users reminded Palmer of the lack of access many people have, not only to healthy food but also to affordable transportation. Some suggested Palmer could be helpful in other ways.

Dafina Kuficha @Treewizdom tweeted, “Access to healthy food is very problematic in disenfranchised neighborhoods. In some areas, ppl have created neighborhood food gardens teaching folks how to eat nutritionally. Perhaps you could find a few gardens and get a group together 4 that cause.”

“A great solution would be providing or building healthy options in low income areas where EBT will be accepted and be the change in the community you’d like to see. Since you have the resources and exposure to do so” @DamnJazAgain tweeted.