Both Maine and Florida have previously attempted to restrict the kinds of food that can be purchased with SNAP benefits, but both are at it again, hoping to restrict the purchase of sugary snacks and drinks for those on state benefits.
Republican Rep. Ralph Massullo of Lecanto is leading the way in Florida and attempting to pull the non-nutritious items from the shopping carts of those who need assistance.
“The fact that we’re allowing junk food as the most common purchased item leads to non-nutritional states and disease. I don’t want the government to get into the nitty-gritty of our lives, but I also don’t want government making us sick.”
He has filed House Bill 593, which would place candy and soda under restricted items for SNAP benefits in Florida. Part of his reasoning comes from the projection that by 2030, 60% of those in Florida will be obese.
Maine also echoes these concerns, stating that it is the heaviest state in New England and that the state typically pays $700 million annually on healthcare costs related to obesity. They hope cutting certain products out of the program will also cut some of the issues that create chronic obesity.
The state also argues that although it may seem cruel to monitor how the poor spend their money and also not pleasant to deny a child a treat once in a while, the government should not be subsidizing poor nutritional choices. These benefits, they argue, are not intended to cover a family’s entire food budget, and therefore any money they have earned themselves should go to these sugary treats for themselves or their families.
The publication Town Hall states that according to the FDA, those who are receiving assistance often spend more on sugary drinks and candy than those who are not. A New York Times segment also commented that the taxpayers are buoying the soda industry by way of allowing those receiving benefits to use them for non-nutritious drinks.
The Florida House Bill will have its first hearing this Thursday as lawmakers attempt to restrict the purchases of SNAP recipients one more time.