Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) is threatening to suspend the SNAP (food stamp) program in the state over the ability to bar the purchase of soda, candy, and other junk foods. SNAP stands for "supplemental nutrition assistance program." LePage is upset that the USDA will likely deny the state's request for a waiver to prohibit the purchase of these items with SNAP funds.
LePage wants to create a "pilot project" with further restrictions on what can be purchased with food stamps.
'What we are aiming to do is to have a pilot project to ban the purchase of candy and junk food, sugar-sweetened beverages, with food stamps in Maine," Bennett said.
According to Bennett, LePage brought the measure to the legislature and it failed.
The Governors spokesperson said, "we want folks to be purchasing nutritious food with these benefits. And we want to ensure taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely."
According to the radio interview, the letter was sent on June 17 to Secretary Tom Vilsack because they had received word from the federal government that they were going to deny the waiver.
Maine has already seen some pretty incredible successes when it comes to welfare reform. In 2014, the state began to require able-bodied adults without dependents to work or volunteer if they wished to keep receiving food stamps, and in 2015 the state began to use asset tests for households without children. Since these reforms were put into place, the number of people receiving welfare has dropped and wages have increased.
Considering that the "n" in SNAP stands for "nutrition," and that sodas, energy drinks, and candy bars have little-to-no nutritional value whatsoever, it makes sense to exclude these items from the program. This shouldn't be controversial. Soda is empty calories and one of the leading causes of obesity and tooth decay. If a person is craving a coke badly enough, there's nothing stopping them from using cash to buy one--but the state should not be the ones funding these purchases under the guise of a nutrition program.