The state of Maine is attempting to make a pretty controversial move concerning food stamps. They’re seeking the approval of the federal government (for the second time) to ban the use of food stamps to purchase certain types of food. State health officials are claiming that the consumption of too much candy and too many soft drinks are leading to significant health care costs for the state.
State Requests To Regulate Food Stamps
Mary Mayhew is the commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. She says that the state is facing an obesity epidemic, which is a major reason why they want to prohibit the use of food stamps to buy certain foods.
According to federal studies conducted by the US Department of Agriculture, soft drinks and candy account for approximately 5% of all purchases made with food stamps. The study also found that households that do not use food stamps spend about 4% of their food budget on sugary foods and drinks.
The state of Maine says that they are spending about $700 million on obesity-related health care costs each year, and that number is growing. Along with asking for the exclusion of certain types of foods, the state is also requesting permission to redirect about $4 million of federal assistance into nutritional education. This education will target schools, food banks and other resources.
Should The State Be Able To Regulate Food Stamp Purchases?
From a monetary perspective, the state’s request makes sense. But they are under fire from those who believe that a person’s health and food choices are a personal matter. Social media has been buzzing with comments and complaints about the policy.
A social media user by the name of MD Crandell wrote, “Perhaps a penalty tax for everyone who is 25 pounds overweight could also be introduced on the floor. Maybe a resolution to ban all companies from doing business in the state of Maine who test their products on animals would work well for you. The bottom line is that the State is not the authority nor should they be. Government cannot be allowed to remove freedom of choice from it’s people.”
In the past, various states have made an effort to limit, control and even get rid of food assistance programs across the country. Some have proposed requiring recipients to submit to drug testing, while others have attempted to regulate what type of food the stamps are spent on.
So, what do you think? Does the state have a point? Or should food stamp recipients be permitted to use their food stamps however they please, without government interference?
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The Huffington Post