Keke Palmer performed her single "Snack" at MTV's 2020 Video Music Awards, which she also hosted, over the summer.
We didn't know then that she was talking only about healthful snacks.
On Monday morning, the singer and actress came under fire on Twitter for a comment about Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards, which Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants use to buy food with SNAP benefits.
"Imagine if your EBT card could only work on healthy items," Palmer wrote with a handful of side-eye emojis.
I’m just here for the comments. GM ☀️ Added for context: I have been eating extremely healthy lately and I have been sad about my debit card balance because of it. Healthy food is more expensive for a reason. It’s fresh, good for you and gives you energy. Bad foods are bad for a reason. They last long they taste good because of tons of sodium and they aren’t expensive because they’re honestly not food. Mostly likely they are food-LIKE products. In any event imagine if you could get whatever healthy foods you wanted on your EBT card. Like all the healthy foods could swipe for free. Pretty much a reward for being healthy but even more so giving homes a break that want to eat healthy but can’t afford it!
A post shared by BIG BOSS 🔑🔑 (@keke) on Nov 9, 2020 at 5:09am PST
The backlash came fast and furious, prompted by the assumption that Palmer was privileged and out of touch.
"Keke Palmer when she spots someone buying honey buns and Takis," another person tweeted with a clip of one man beating up another in a grocery store.
"Keke Palmer making sure y’all grabbing the frozen vegetables and not the Ben & Jerry's," someone else tweeted with a video of a suspicious Walmart worker.
Keke Palmer when she sees you buying Doritos instead of kale pic.twitter.com/kgfWRlN31C
— Aye Yo B (@BeSmoove7) November 9, 2020
Keke Palmer when she spots someone buying honey buns and Takis
— KYLE 🖕🏽 (@thekillakay_) November 9, 2020
Keke Palmer making sure y’all grabbing the frozen vegetables and not the Ben&Jerrys pic.twitter.com/7AsMacxpcL
— The Scumlorian (@notChvnel) November 9, 2020
Journalist Ernest Owens synthesized the outcry, tweeting: ".@KekePalmer, you can still address food deserts in America without policing the very vulnerable people impacted by it. Let's start with why so many have to be on EBT in such areas to begin with, or why you felt the need to assume they weren't getting 'healthy items' already."
Palmer, however, clarified her statement on multiple platforms.
On Twitter, she wrote that "my tweet was pertaining to issues w/ healthy foods being [too] expensive & thinking it should be free for those w/ EBT cards. This was not a suggestion for solving all low income issues. Solely a hopeful solution [for] those with EBT that want to run it up w/ meat & produce."
Imagine waking up a millionaire and wondering how impoverished people spent their money on food you're not paying for.
Couldn't be me.
I hope Keke Palmer gets it now.
— Ernest Owens (@MrErnestOwens) November 9, 2020
In an Instagram caption, the former “Strahan, Sara and Keke” TV host explained that she has been eating "extremely healthy" recently. (In a string of tweets, she wrote that that meant "carbs like whole grains," whole wheat foods, lentils, chickpeas, yogurt, eggs and veggies.)
The actress recognized that "healthy food is more expensive for a reason" and distinguished that it's "fresh, good for you and gives you energy." She contrasted that with unhealthful foods that might contain more sodium, taste better and be less expensive.
"Imagine if you could get whatever healthy foods you wanted on your EBT card," Palmer wrote. "Like all the healthy foods could swipe for free. Pretty much a reward for being healthy but even more so giving homes a break that want to eat healthy but can’t afford it!"
You never realize what healthy food is actually worth until you decide to eat extremely healthy and notice that everything is a million dollars .. !!!
I see corporations know the nutritious valuable off top. 🙄
— Keke Palmer (@KekePalmer) November 9, 2020
The activist had, in fact, been discussing healthful eating on her Twitter account with friends and fans all morning. Her previous tweets offer a slice of context: Palmer was trying to say she thinks that healthful foods (like produce and fresh meat) should be free with an EBT card.
In fact, she went so far as to bring it up to the vice president-elect, Kamala Harris.
"Hey @KamalaHarris I know you just started but me and my friends were talking about it and we think EBT cards should swipe free on all items considered HEALTHY," Palmer tweeted. "Xoxo."
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.