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University of Wisconsin–Madison
Poverty-related issues in the news, from the Institute for Research on Poverty

Limits on SNAP Food Choices

SNAP judgments: Should junk food be off-limits for food stamp recipients?, By Jane Black, August 26, 2013, Buffalo News:”Last winter, a delegation of high-profile nutritionists made the rounds of Washington lawmakers to discuss ways to improve the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, aka food stamps. One of their proposals: Could SNAP explore limiting the types of food that recipients can buy with their federal benefits? A state or city might ban chips or cookies, or, as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed in 2010, soda and other sugary beverages. Such a move could nudge food stamp recipients toward healthier choices, and in any case, the federal government should not be subsidizing junk food. A decent suggestion, worthy of debate, right? Legislators’ response was uniformly supportive, recalls Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University. But there was one catch: “One after another, Democrats and Republicans all said exactly the same thing. ‘You have to get the anti-hunger groups on your side. Until they are willing to support this, it’s not going to happen. Period.’ ”But anti-hunger organizations were most certainly not on board…”