The counterargument is that it's not fair to restrict poor people's grocery choices. You hear this a lot from the food and beverage industry, for which SNAP has grown into a significant subsidy.
Sorry, I don't get it - morally or pragmatically. Of course the federal government should be able to leverage its purchasing power for socially beneficial purposes.
If you take Uncle Sam's help, you play by his rules. I repeat: This is a nutrition program, or so the taxpayers who fund it are told. It should nourish.
Probably the most cynical argument against banning junk food from SNAP is that it would "stigmatize" the poor by making them conspicuous at the grocery store.
Since when is it humiliating to take only healthful food through a checkout line?
And why should this theoretical threat to psychological health outweigh more plausible threats to physical health?
Saslow's story suggests that it's already no big secret who's on SNAP in places such as Woonsocket.
At the very least, SNAP should bar sodas, a nutritionally empty "food" if ever there were one. Before he tried to ban large sodas at movie theaters, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg asked the USDA to authorize a two-year no-soda experiment in his city's SNAP program.
The department turned him down, echoing food industry claims that the one-city test would be "too large and complex."
What a threadbare excuse. This is the age of data-mining, scanners, bar codes and debit cards. If SNAP can weed out beer, it can weed out Coke.
The Women, Infants and Children program limits purchases to a finite list of healthful foods without unmanageable hassles.
The USDA rejected Bloomberg's idea in August 2011, while President Obama was in his first term - and first lady Michele Obama was admirably promoting nutrition and physical activity.
Maybe in a second term the Obamas will persuade Congress and the USDA to get with her program.
Lane is a member of editorial board of the Washington Post.