Recently, there is a proposed legislation in Florida to limit food stamps by State Senator Ronda Storms after she witnessed a food stamp participant purchasing fatty, sugary, “treats” with food assistance. She saw an immediate need to place a restriction on junk food because of this experience. The proposal would have banned sweets and salty snacks. However, the legislation never made it pass the Florida House subcommittee this Monday.
The food provision was attached to bill that was prohibiting welfare recipients from using debit-like electronic cards to access cash benefits outside of Florida at strip clubs, liquor stores, bars and gambling establishments. However, the provision was taken off of the bill. The new bill was then approved 9 to 5. The junk food provision would have limited what food stamp participants could purchase. Sweets, like candy, cupcakes, doughnuts, popsicles, Jell-O and pudding were among the provisions. It would have also banned the purchase of pretzels, popcorn, potato chips and other salty snacks.
There were members who did vote for the legislation, but the same members who opposed the bill will continue to block if the bill in the Senate tries to pass. Opponents of the bill said that it would infringe upon the rights of an individual responsibility and recipients’ freedom to choose what they want to eat without interference from “Big Government.”
”Thank god there’s still freedom, and a fat guy can get a Coke once in a while,” said Representative Dennis Baxley, a representative from Ocala, Florida.
Other representatives are also in agreement with the decision. Representative Daniel Davis, a Republican from Jacksonville, prefers a balanced approach to nutrition.
”I believe my kids eat pretty healthy, but on a hot summer day playing outside, a Popsicle’s pretty good,” Davis said. “That’s something that is not going to harm a child, and in fact I think it’s part of growing up.”
Ebony Faith Yarbrough, food and nutrition coordinator for the anti-hunger campaign non-profit Florida Impact, also believes that the food ban would bring back the food stigma that has been around since the Great Depression. However, now it’s the recession that is causing these new stigmas upon families and individuals who need assistance.
Yarbrough said that requiring participants to restrict food purchases in a way that would “look over their shoulder into their carts into what they have” is “unconscionable.”
Yarbrough also argued that there is no scientific evidence that food stamp recipients are purchasing unhealthy foods at a rate greater than the general population. She said that the answer is education about nutrition, not placing unfounded restrictions on those who need the help the most.
The bill’s sponsor Representative Scott Plakon was able to concede defeat and agreed to a committee amendment that removed the provision. The Republican from Longwood said that he realized it was a lost cause over the weekend when he was talking with members in the subcommittee.