Food Stamp Ban on Soda

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Pro
  • It's making the news again. A proposed ban by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to stop the use of food stamps to buy soda and other sugary drinks has some people up in arms.

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    Mayor Bloomberg requested permission from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to prevent food stamps be spent on sugary drinks in an effort to counter rising rates of obesity. This would then provide families with additional money for the purchase of more nutritious foods and drinks.


    High sugar beverages may play a role with rising rates of diabetes leading to a rising health care costs the city of New York is trying to manage. Mayor Bloomberg proposed a tax on sugary drinks in the past that was not approved.

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    Now, some believe low income families are being targeted. This could be seen as "picking on" individuals that struggle to make ends meet and rely on foods stamps.

    What do you think?


    Are the rising rates of obesity and increasing health care costs linked to people not knowing how to purchase healthy foods? Should the government be able to regulate what individuals using food stamps purchase?

    Here's my opinion:


    I'd be happy to see more regulations on what food stamps can be used to purchase. Food stamps are funded by taxes you and I pay. Why would I want food stamps to be used to purchase soda when it could be used to purchase milk, 100% fruit or vegetable juice, and other nutritious beverages? In this case, I'd label soda a luxury item. If you are struggling to make ends meet use the food stamps to purchase the most nutritious items you can to feed yourself and your family. Save the soda for when you have a little extra to purchase out of your own pocket.


    For me this has nothing to do with assuming one way or the other what individuals on food stamps purchase. Some may make very healthy choices and others may not. Regardless, I don't feel soda needs to be an option.


    However, I'm open to hearing other sides of the argument. Feel free to share your opinion below!


    As an FYI, the soft drink industry was against the ban. I wonder why?:)


    Back in 2004, Minnesota's request to ban the purchase of junk food with food stamps was rejected by the USDA.


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Published On: October 22, 2010