Can You Buy Soda On Food Stamps – Lawmakers who used food stamps at one point in their lives question house proposal on soda USDA has rejected calls from states and cities to eliminate soft drinks from what SNAP recipients can buy

It was more than a decade ago when federal officials rejected New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to ban food stamp users from buying soda. But a GOP lawmaker in Florida says it’s time to ask the federal government to stop subsidizing the purchase of soft drinks.

Can You Buy Soda On Food Stamps

Can You Buy Soda On Food Stamps

Representative Ralph Massullo, who represents Citrus County and part of Marion, is sponsoring the monument (HB 581) that would urge Congress to ban the use of what is officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ( SNAP) to buy soft drinks.

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SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, is a government program that helps people buy healthy food. It helps about 2.8 million people in Florida, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The legislation states that drinking soda can lead to nutritional deficiencies and health disorders including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, and that soft drinks are “poor in nutrition but rich in calories.”

“What I’m trying to do with this memorial is to present evidence to the federal government that they need to evaluate these programs to make them more nutritious to help these people in need,” Massullo told a House committee Thursday.

(A memorial is a measure addressed to an executive agency or other legislative body that expresses the consensus of the Legislature or urges that specific action be taken, according to Florida Senate terminology. It is not subject to approval or the governor’s veto powers, and does not have the effect of law.)

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Representatives Rita Harris of Orange County and Michele Rayner-Goolsby, who represent parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas, both of whom have been on food stamps at one point in their lives, said the intended message of the memorial – intention or not – to “shame” people.

“I think we’re being a bit hypocritical with (the) memorial,” added South Florida Democrat Felicia Robinson. “We say people with money can buy whatever they want, but because we’re helping a certain group, we’re going to limit what they buy.”

Elizabeth DeWitt, president of the Florida Beverage Association, said her organization also opposes the memorial. He told the subcommittee that statistics show that soda consumption has decreased but obesity rates have increased, disproving the idea that soda consumption directly leads to obesity.

Can You Buy Soda On Food Stamps

Even if the bill passes both legislative chambers, it is doubtful whether the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will agree to Florida’s request.

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States such as Illinois, Minnesota, Florida and Texas “have either proposed bills in state legislatures or applied to the USDA to prohibit the purchase of certain food and beverage items using SNAP funds, according to a 2019 brief at the Baker Institute on for Rice University Public. Policy. None of those proposals have been successful.

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Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently, he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.

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World Health Officials Want Super Size Tax On Soda And Sugary Drinks, But Are Countries Ready To Swallow That?

A major study of the grocery shopping habits of millions of Americans released late last year found that people who use food stamps generally make the same unhealthy food choices as everyone else in America. Too many sweets, salty snacks and ready desserts. Junk food, in other words.

But when it came to soda and its sugary ilk, the results were more surprising, and not in a good way. According to the USDA-funded study, shoppers who used food stamps spent a larger portion of their budget — 9.25% to be exact — on sugar-sweetened beverages than other shoppers. Even more surprising: food stamp shoppers bought more soda than any other single grocery item.

The new data revived an old debate about banning soda from the $71-billion food stamp program. In February, the House Agriculture Committee held a hearing to gather evidence about the pros and cons of such a restriction. It seems counterproductive to spend billions of taxpayer dollars in an effort to improve the nutrition of low-income Americans on products that have little or no nutritional value. It’s called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, after all. What’s worse is that soda has been identified by public health experts as a major culprit in the rising US rates of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

Can You Buy Soda On Food Stamps

However, the study and the committee’s debate raised some of the same uncomfortable issues that have caused the proposal to weaken in the past. On the conservative side, people have worried that this kind of nanny state regulation will lead to other heavy-handed health-related restrictions (mandatory exercise, perhaps). Meanwhile, liberals have been worried that it is patronizing and punitive to tell people how to spend their government benefits. Add in the opposition from the drinks industry lobby and it is no surprise that this idea has not gone very far when it has been proposed in the past. In recent years, a handful of states and cities, including New York City, have tried to impose such a requirement, but were blocked by the US Department of Agriculture.

No Sweets Or Soda For Food Stamp Recipients?

The difference now is that the attitude towards soda has soured quickly as more evidence has emerged that drinks with added sugars are making people fat and sick. The USDA has published dietary guidelines warning people to limit their consumption of food with added sugars, the biggest sources of which are sugary drinks. This belief helped San Francisco, Philadelphia and a handful of other cities push new taxes on soda. A handful more are considering their own soda taxes, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see an effort to adopt a statewide soda tax in California soon.

We know that drinking a lot of soda has harmful effects on health, but we don’t know if prohibiting SNAP recipients from spending their benefits on soda will actually improve their health. It’s worth finding out by running a limited pilot program, regardless of the obstacles we might have about imposing restrictions on the poor that more affluent Americans don’t face. The assumption is that those billions of dollars that aren’t going to buy Coke or Red Bull will be spent on healthier food. But that may not be true. What if the consumption of other sugary items, such as ice cream and dessert, increases? Or if SNAP recipients simply switched their sugary drink habits ounce-for-ounce to more expensive fruit juices that are still full of sugar? Or if they spend their non-SNAP money on soda? Before making a permanent change, we need to know if it would improve nutrition or be pointless punishment.

But it is a good step to take to collect data. And the argument that it would be too hard on vegetables to carve out sugary drinks doesn’t hold water. As the study shows, modern grocery checkout stand technology is sophisticated enough to easily separate purchases by UPC code. Indeed, SNAP already comes with restrictions on alcohol, tobacco and hot foods, among other things. Sellers have no problem to solve. The Women, Infants and Children food assistance program is even more prescriptive, allowing only certain items to be purchased: milk, cheese, cereal and formula, for example, but absolutely nothing with added sugar or artificial sweetener. Ideally, a pilot program would also find ways to improve access to safe drinking water. One of the reasons why low income people may choose sugary drinks is that their drinking water is not reliable.

Denying poor people the ability to use food aid to buy a Coke on a hot day could raise some unsettling questions. Yet the findings in the USDA study about excessive soda consumption should not be ignored.

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The editorial board of the Los Angeles Times determines the positions of The Times as an organization. It operates separately from the newsroom. You can read more about the mission of the board and its members in About The Times Editorial Board. Should We Continue To Subsidize Sugar In The Food Stamp Program? : The Salt SNAP provides nutrition assistance to about 42 million Americans, but critics say now is the time to restructure the $70 billion annual program in a way that promotes healthier food choices.

Food aid recipients spend around 10 per cent of their food budget on sugary drinks, while the rest of the population spend around 7 per cent. David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty


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