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SINCE its introduction in 1964, America’s food stamp program has helped millions of struggling Americans put food on their tables in difficult times. During the recent economic downturn, the number of people in New York City receiving this assistance has grown more than 35 percent.

Recipients, however, aren’t allowed to buy everything a grocery store might sell. The federal government bars the use of food stamps to buy cigarettes, beer, wine, liquor or prepared foods like hot deli sandwiches and restaurant entrees. Still, the program, which is supposed to promote nutrition as well as reduce hunger, has a serious flaw: food stamps can be used to buy soda and other sweetened drinks.

Read NYTimes

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