JP Morgan’s Food Stamp Empire
How the welfare state became a profit center.
In 2010, President Obama signed into law the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The bill added $4.5 billion to child-nutrition programs over the next decade, put in place nutrition standards for school lunch programs and vending machines, and implemented training for the cafeteria workers who feed 31 million students a day through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs.
It received bipartisan support, and was hailed as a compassionate victory for America’s poorest children.
The bill was also, however, a potentially good development for mega bank JP Morgan Chase. Why, you may be wondering, would one of the nation’s biggest banks benefit from a bill meant to feed poor children? A closer look at the legislation reveals the answer.
The bill mandates that “all state agencies implement Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) systems by October 1, 2020” for those receiving money through the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. And which company administers nearly half of all states’ EBT programs? You guessed it: JP Morgan Chase.
We seldom think of poverty programs as profit centers, preferring to discuss them as matters of ideology. Liberals view programs like WIC—which provides food to both pregnant mothers and mothers of young children—as the mark of a compassionate nation.
Conservatives see them as a gateway to government dependency.
Arguably, they may fit either of those descriptions. But as with so many other government programs in Washington, both WIC and its close cousin, the federal food stamp program, have morphed into something else: cash cows for powerful corporate interests.RTWT!