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NYC proposes ban on buying sugary soft drinks with food stamps

3 commentsBy Caroline Scott-Thomas , 08-Oct-2010
Last updated the 08-Oct-2010 at 16:42 GMT

Using food stamps to buy sugary soft drinks could be banned in New York City if a proposal submitted to the USDA by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor David Paterson is accepted.

Bloomberg and Paterson argue that sugar-sweetened beverages provide no nutritional value and Americans consume an average of 200 to 300 more calories a day than 30 years ago – nearly half from sugary drinks. Meanwhile, obesity rates have ballooned, particularly among New York City’s poorest households. The Food Stamp Program (now officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) was introduced in 1964 with the stated aim to “provide for improved levels of nutrition among low-income households.”

“The use of food stamp benefits to support the purchase of sugar sweetened drinks not only contradicts the intent of this vital program, but it also subsidizes a serious public health epidemic,” Paterson said in a statement issued on Thursday.

Bloomberg said: “This initiative will give New York families more money to spend on foods and drinks that provide real nourishment.”

The proposal would provide food stamp recipients with the same amount of benefits, but they would not be able to use them to buy sugar-sweetened beverages for two years.

Professor of nutrition Dr. Barry Popkin told FoodNavigator-USA.com that he thought that banning the purchase of sugary beverages for food stamp beneficiaries to curb consumption is “a worthy goal” but said he did not think it would happen at this time.

“The legal structure of our Food Stamp Program would have to be changed. They probably won’t get it,” he said. “Politically it’s going to be very difficult for them to get anything through…This is something the food industry will fight.”

The American Beverage Association (ABA), which supports the interests of the beverage industry, called the proposal “another attempt by government to tell New Yorkers what they should eat and drink, and will only have an unfair impact on those who can least afford it.”

The ABA argues that efforts should be concentrated on “comprehensive solutions that address balancing calories in with calories out”.

3 comments (Comments are now closed)

Food Stamp Alternative

Interesting that while worrying about obesity, they completely ignore the need for sugar in the diet to provide energy. Watch out for the "law of unintended consequences".

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Posted by P. Rogers
15 October 2010 | 17h44

Food Stamp Alternative: ABA Involvement

Food Stamps are now called Supplemental Food Nutrition Program (SNAP) for a reason-Nutrition! Healthy calories and nutrition are what low-income individuals/families need not empty calories. Perhaps the ABA could direct it's funding efforts toward developing nutritional beverages that improve society health which ultimately improves our deficit.

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Posted by Jolene Jennings, Agency Relations, Worcester County Food Bank
12 October 2010 | 14h09

Food Stamp Alternative

The WIC Program has seen beneficial results of supplementation using vouchers for nutritious foods . It has been my feeling for many years as a Nutrition professor and Dietitian that the SNAP program be run the same way. Vouchers forfruits and vegetables, (fresh, cannedand frozen) and whole grain products , eggs milk, poultry and fish. This would assure that the basics are purchased.

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Posted by Colette janson-Sand PhD RD LD
08 October 2010 | 18h03

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