Thinly sliced: Barilla is funding studies on pasta’s health benefits, boys get more from SNAP than girls, and more

This is the web version of a list we publish twice-weekly in our newsletter. It comprises the most noteworthy food stories of the moment, selected by our editors. Get it first here.

Getting SNAPpy. Yep, you’re right: there’s a whole lotta SNAP news this week. Considering that more than 40 million Americans supplement their food budgets using it, we think it’s pretty important. The House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday advanced its version of the farm bill after hours of bitterly partisan debate. The main bone of contention? You guessed it: Disagreements over the how the SNAP program should be administered. The plan promoted by Committee Chairman Mike Conaway and his Republican colleagues, which passed in a 26-to-20 vote down party lines, would significantly increase work requirements for SNAP eligibility, mandating that recipients between the ages of 18 and 59 be employed at least part-time. The Washington Post’s Caitlin Dewey describes how the proceedings quickly became a fraught referendum on empathy, personal responsibility, and the role of the social safety net—a break from the historically bipartisan, decorous tone of farm bill debates of yore. The Committee’s version now proceeds to the House floor for a vote.

Shhhhh. Restaurants are too damn loud. And if you’ve had this grievance with your favorite joints, consider downloading a decibel meter app, because according to this report from Vox, most dining experiences are deafening.

Sharing is caring. Stephanie Land, a mother of two, shares her experience of being a SNAP recipient with Talk Poverty. She talks specifically about how, for lower-income people like her, food can be entertainment, saying that food stamps allowed her to “splurge” on well-balanced meals for her children over herself. And in her world of sweating paychecks and overdrawn bank accounts, a splurge on good quality food IS entertaining. So maybe we let her (or should we say her kids) just eat cake?

Cup of joe. At Starbucks, racial bias is ground into the design, Brentin Mock argues in his thoughtful story for CityLab this week.

She’s running. New York’s Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has formally introduced her SNAP for Kids Act, which amends the Senate farm bill to increase nutrition funding for school children. If it took effect today, it would mean up to $40 a month more for teenage girls, and another $69 for teenage boys. (Yes: Boys get more food benefits than girls.) The act, which was introduced to ward off cuts in the House’s version of the bill, was co-sponsored by every potential presidential hopeful: Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris.

IMPASTA. Heard about that recent study suggesting that pasta is good for weight loss? Well, Buzzfeed breaks down the conflicting interest paying for the science. As you may have suspected, the world’s biggest pasta producer, Barilla, has funded numerous studies on the benefits of pasta, because the persistent ebb and flow of keto and paleo and other low-carb diets have the spaghetti industry looking like a limp noodle.

Update 4/26/2018: This story’s headline has been updated to clarify that Barilla has funded studies on pasta’s health benefits, but it did not fund the most recent viral study.

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