New Bill Proposes to Block Food Stamp Users From Buying Junk Food

Heather Ginsberg

9/11/2013 5:45:00 PM - Heather Ginsberg

Hopefully very soon we could see some serious legislation on the floor of the House that will combat abuse of the social welfare system. We are all very well aware of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or as many others know it, food stamps. Currently there are rules in place to try and cut down on the fraud of the food stamp system, but the new bill proposed by Representative Phil Roe of Tennessee takes it one step further. Yesterday the Republican lawmaker proposed new legislation that would require people using federal food stamps to buy only healthy food.

According to The Hill:

The Healthy Food Choices Act, H.R. 3073, reflects a long-standing criticism that the government's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) allows people to buy billions of dollars worth of junk food.

A 2012 study found that food stamps enable about $2 billion worth of junk food purchases each year, and that more than half of all SNAP benefits are used to buy sugary drinks.

Efforts to curb these purchases have been opposed by anti-hunger groups. But Roe said some states are already exploring ways to curb junk food purchases through the SNAP program, and argued that the federal government needs to take steps as well.

"Already, states like Wisconsin and South Carolina have shown interest in improving the healthfulness of choices in their SNAP programs," he said. "By giving SNAP recipients more nutritious choices, we can take a meaningful step towards ending hunger in America."

Under Roe's bill, food purchased under SNAP would have to meet the same guidelines that food purchased under the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program already have to meet. The WIC guidelines are strict, and are made up of several different standards for products like breakfast cereal, milk, vegetables, peanut butter and other foods.

Breakfast cereal, for example, must contain certain levels of iron, cannot contain more than 21.2 grams of sugar per 100 grams of cereal, and must have whole grain as a primary ingredient in order to be bought under the WIC program.

Obviously these standards have worked well for the WIC program, so it doesn’t seem that far of a leap to try and integrate this policy across the board. Women and children have been getting the required nutrition from the WIC program, and obviously with SNAP using these policies everyone would be just fine.

And we can definitely expect to see the liberals freak out about this one. But what many need to understand is that this system’s spending is out of control and in order to maintain a social welfare state, we need to make cuts. If we are going to continue to allocate tax payer dollars to the SNAP program, it should be regulated in a way to help us keep costs down in other parts of the system (like health care).

Hopefully this bill will see the light of day and some broad, across the board changes will be made to this very corrupt system.