According to Florida state Senator Ronda Storms, taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for the junk food habits of impoverished Americans.
Unlike most people, who may shake their heads in disapproval when they see someone paying for a cart full of processed foods with food stamps, Storms used her position to take decisive action. She sponsored a bill that would prohibit Floridians from purchasing “nonstaple, unhealthy foods” with funds provided by the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
Storms, who is a mother of four, feels that at a time when Florida is cutting jobs and funding for many public health and assistance programs it’s wrong for people to indulge in sugary, fatty, highly-processed treats on the public dime.
“If we’re going to be cutting services across the board,” Storms told the LA Times, “then people can live without potato chips, without store-bought cookies, without their sodas.”
Storms also cited health concerns for impoverished individuals as a major motivator behind the bill, which was recently approved by the committee on child and elderly affairs that she chairs. A recent survey by the Center for Disease Control found that about one-third of U.S. adults (33.8%) are obese, while approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese.
Highly-processed foods and beverages containing large percentages of sugar and fat have been directly linked to America’s obesity epidemic, yet the USDA has been reluctant to create health-based restrictions on what can and cannot be purchased with food stamps.
Florida’s proposed legislation is only the latest in a rapidly growing number of local governments attempting to restrict food stamp purchases. Critics of these laws say that they unfairly restrict food choices for those who are poor.
Image Credit: Flickr – USDAgov