Senator Bill Stone, a Democrat representing Mississippi, is at the head of controversial bill that would prohibit recipients of SNAP benefits (food stamps) from buying candy, sugary drinks, and unhealthy foods with their EBT cards. Mississippi, which is the fattest state in the country with an adult obesity rate of 34 percent, currently has 630,000 receiving monthly benefits, and 66 percent of these 630,000 are Black. Stone says this bill concept came to him while standing in line at a grocery store; this is the first time he’s proposed a bill of this sort and contends that its only to promote healthy dietary habits for children. “I was behind this lady with a shopping basket loaded with sugary drinks, potato chips, cookies and candy,” Stone said. “She had nothing of any nutritional value in her cart and when it came time for her to pay, she pulled out her EBT card and paid for it. There was no breakfast cereal, no meats, nothing but pure junk. And, I thought to myself, ‘we should not be paying for this junk.’ We should be providing nutrition to sustain children. She’s an adult. What she puts in her own body is her own business. But it’s not acceptable for the children.”
While this bill has many opponents and proponents, running it past the FLOTUS may give Stone some fuel. More from Stone: “We can’t spell out everything in the law. When we see parents buying all of this junk food, you wonder what their children are eating.” The deadline for bill revisions is the first week of March. If signed by the governor, the law would go into effect on July 1.
Is this a bad idea? Should the government be regulating what people eat? And, are there even enough healthy food options in low-income neighborhoods?