Newly proposed legislation in Congress would ban recipients of food stamps from buying junk food.
The Hill reports that a bill proposed by Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., would require food stamp recipients to purchase only healthy food.
The Healthy Food Choices Act, H.R. 3073 is the latest salvo from Republican members of Congress who have criticized the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps or the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC).
In August, it was reported that House Republicans hoped to cut some $40 billion from future SNAP budgets.
Roe’s legislation is specifically in response to a 2012 study, which showed that recipients from the food stamp fund spend approximately $2 billion a year on junk food.
“As a physician, I realize the importance of healthy eating, and as an obstetrician, I’ve seen how the WIC program helps empower families receiving assistance to use taxpayer dollars to purchase healthy, wholesome foods,” Roe said in a statement published on his congressional site. “If these guidelines are good and healthy enough for women and children, then SNAP recipients should also benefit from adhering to the same standards.”
In June, Roe voted in favor of proposed legislation that would apply work to welfare standards to food stamp fund recipients.
Critics of Roe’s proposal say that the tighter nutritional requirements would actually be more of a burden for low-income individuals and families who rely on SNAP funds. They also point out that Roe previously opposed efforts by first lady Michelle Obama to improve national school lunch nutritional standards.
Roe’s bill would require SNAP food purchases to adhere to the same nutritional guidelines required under the WIC program. But some critics have said that even WIC’s requirements are not based on science and need fine-tuning to ensure they are nutritionally sound.
Still, Roe said his intention is to improve the health of SNAP recipients by helping to ensure that they eat more nutritious meals with their funds.
“Already states like Wisconsin and South Carolina have shown interest in improving the healthfulness of choices in their SNAP programs,” Roe said. “By giving SNAP recipients more nutritious choices, we can take a meaningful step towards ending hunger in America.”