Food Stamps Could Become Healthier After Wisconsin Bill

Legislators in Wisconsin are pushing a bill forward that could set an interesting precedent for state food stamp programs. The bill would make it a requirement of those who use food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, to spend a set amount of them on food deemed to have “sufficient nutritional value.”

Similar measures have been tried in other states to little success.  Minnesota attempted to prohibit the purchase of candy or soda with food  stamps, and New York requested to ban certain sugary drinks. Both states’  requests were turned down at the federal level by the USDA. The USDA states that since there is no real standard of what is healthy and what can be considered junk food, bills like those are too vague. Though the bill has passed in Wisconsin’s Assembly, it has to also pass in their Senate. Even if it passes, the USDA could still step in and stop the measure.

The USDA has said its main concern is the expense of implementing a program like that in the bill. The list of acceptable foods would have to be updated constantly in order to keep up with the development of new food products. They also cite the difficulty in keeping up with those new food products as they are created. For such a program to exist, every food item would have to be assessed to be healthy or not, which doesn’t sound that daunting until the sheer number of foods is realized. Since there isn’t a current standard of determining whether a food is healthy or unhealthy, a system would need to be developed.

It is clear that a large amount of work would have to go in to making a program like the one proposed in Wisconsin legislation a reality. If the bill passes in the Wisconsin Senate and is allowed by the USDA, it could spur other states to pass similar legislation.

What do you think? Should there be a requirement that a certain amount of food stamps must be used on healthy food?


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Debbie Crowe
Debbie C3 years ago

I think it will need a lot more refining before it will ever be passed.

Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton3 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Alan Lambert
Alan Lambert3 years ago

I actually suggested something like this but in reverse.

A fixed dollar amount on anything, but a 25%-50% bonus on fresh vegetables, fresh fruit and organic foods.


Angela Roquemore
Angela Roquemore3 years ago

Interesting idea, but it'll never work.

Bryna Pizzo
Bryna Pizzo3 years ago

Thank you.

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra3 years ago

Thank you Brandi, for Sharing this!

Virginia Belder
Virginia Belder3 years ago


Amanda M.
Amanda M3 years ago

I've been saying for YEARS that SNAP benefits should have the same kind of healthy-foods-only restrictions on them that WIC checks have. Nobody should be allowed to use SNAP for junk food such as chips, candy, soda, or processed "foods" like Lunchables or Kids' Cuisine-type meals. There should be an allowance for hygeine items such as soap, shampoo, or toothpaste too, as proper hygeine is also essential to health, and many of those items can be out of reach for the poor.

Junk food is a LUXURY or an OCCASIONAL TREAT, and should be restricted as such.

Margaret W.
Margaret W3 years ago

You obviously haven't read the bill. It's just another attempt by our GOP driven congress to dictate what people on food stamps can or cannot buy. And what they CANNOT buy includes organic foods and more expensive foods. For example, they can buy processed cheese, but NOT Sharp Cheddar! Wonder if they could buy Havarti, Brie or Gorgonzola? They can buy white eggs, but NOT brown eggs. The bill is a travesty in many ways and I can't begin to imagine the headaches for grocery stores.

Sue T.
Susan T3 years ago

too bad products like toilet paper, soap, shampoo can't be purchased with snap ebt but soda and chips can be. There does need to be a change in what is allowed I think. booze and tobacco CANNOT be purchsed with "food stamps" but if you have a cash allowance option you may be able to get cash to purchase these items.....