Home Health News No Food Stamps For Soft Drinks? Cracking Down On Soda Pop

No Food Stamps For Soft Drinks? Cracking Down On Soda Pop

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Yesterday afternoon, my friend who knows [and, I suspect, resents] my personal anti-sodapop stance sent me an interesting op-ed from the New York Times. I’m just gonna quote a few key sections before I get started, here:

Every year, tens of millions of federal dollars are spent on sweetened beverages in New York City through the food stamp program — far more than is spent on obesity prevention. This amounts to an enormous subsidy to the sweetened beverage industry.

To correct this, New York City and State are asking the United States Department of Agriculture, which administers the food stamp program, to authorize a demonstration project in New York City. The city would bar the use of food stamps to buy beverages that contain more sugar than substance — that is, beverages with low nutritional value that contain more than 10 calories per eight-ounce serving. The policy would not apply to milk, milk substitutes (like soy milk, rice milk or powdered milk) or fruit juices without added sugar — and its effects would be rigorously evaluated.

This policy change would be entirely in keeping with existing standards for defining what is and isn’t nutritious. The Agriculture Department itself has already rightly declared sugar-sweetened beverages to be “foods of minimal nutritional value.”

The city’s proposed program would not reduce participants’ food stamp benefits or their ability to feed their families a nutritionally adequate diet. They would still receive every penny of support they now get, meaning they would have as much, if not more, to spend on nutritious food. And they could still purchase soda if they chose — just not with taxpayer dollars.

I mean, this is pretty damn progressive. And really, I don’t know that typical arguments about government involvement in our personal decisions apply here, because (1) this isn’t the government telling us to do with our own dollars… these are taxpayer dollars and (2) you can argue that the precedent for this has already been set, as the op-ed also notes:

Recipients, however, aren’t allowed to buy everything a grocery store might sell. The federal government bars the use of food stamps to buy cigarettes, beer, wine, liquor or prepared foods like deli sandwiches and restaurant entrees. Still, the program, which is supposed to promote nutrition as well as reduce hunger, has a serious flaw: food stamps can be used to buy soda and other sweetened drinks.

I got a few people asking me my thoughts on this… and even though I don’t love to “do” politics on this site, I can for a minute.

I’m interested in your thoughts, though – do you support this or stand against it? Why? Keep in mind the quotations in bold when you share your thoughts! All sides welcome here!

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Missb1203 October 8, 2010 - 9:25 AM

As soon as i saw this news report yesterday i said to myself, “she’s going to definitely cover this”. My thoughts on the issue are mixed. Yes, sodas and “fruit” juices are definitely bad for your health. But the fact of the matter is that people are going to find a way to get their hands on these things regardless. They banned people from using food stamps to buy beer and cigarettes and they still are being bought. we need to change people’s thinking and educate them on healthier alternatives. And the passing of this rule seems to be saying “your poor and need public assistance and now you have the NERVE to get fat?”. Which is counterproductive and almost shaming. I know of people in New York whose EBT card allows them to purchase food from Mcdonalds etc, because they are classified as having a broken stove in the home (why not just pay to get the stove fixed!!!) I think unfortunately, the public assistance system keeps people in a vicious cycle. And while they are meant to help families in their time of need, there are very little efforts to actually educate on healthy living and eating.

ChellBellz October 8, 2010 - 9:40 AM

Well even though it sounds like a wonderful idea in order to make people step up and get healthy, You can get Rock Creek Sodas for 99 cents, i dont think this will stop people from buying sodas but I do think its a good idea in the logn run as far as people’s health, and if they are on foodstamps like my aunt, she also is on governement healthcare. This would probably stop her from buying so many juices and sodas packed with sugar and corn syrup. I don’t know though…I think i need to think a little more with that one.

Yaya October 8, 2010 - 10:06 AM

I hate to think of myself as stomping on people’s civil liberties but then again it is OUR money. OUR money for the food and OUR money for the healthcare. Now, I recognize the “crazy” in this line of thinking since the same could be said about forced birth control and limiting the number of children one is able to have and get a subsidy–and idea to which I COMPLETELY OBJECT. But, But, But….our healthcare/obesity crisis has reached epidemic porportions so if this is one step towards changing that, then so be it. If people want to buy Cigarettes, Liqour, and High Fructose Corn Syrupy drinks they can still do it..just not on tax payer money. It MIGHT cause a shift in “TASTES” literally. And what’s the big deal if people can’t get koolaid and soda? I am not on public assistance but I *wish* I hadn’t inhaled so much koolaid, Hawaiian Punch, and the like for the last 36 years. It would have saved me a few pounds and likely a few trips to the nutritionist. Said my current nutritionist: “No more than 4 oz of juice a day is needed.” Said my (sage old) internist: “If God had wanted you to drink fruit juice, He would have put it in a tree!” Sure that is extreme, but so is diabetes. Just my thoughts.

Wow! September 19, 2011 - 4:20 PM

You do realize that alot of people who recieve foodstamps pay taxes as well?

cindy March 7, 2013 - 10:35 PM

so…it is you’re money? My husband has been a truck driver almost all of his life{paying lost of taxes} and he gets sick and gets laid off and we need assistance did we not pay our part all of his years of working?.You’re views are pretty shallow, No one should ever be able to tell us what we can consume regardless of people being fat.

Tina Fite October 8, 2010 - 10:14 AM

You know, I agree with this wholeheartedly. While I do agree with Missb1203 comments of “Yes, sodas and “fruit” juices are definitely bad for your health. But the fact of the matter is that people are going to find a way to get their hands on these things regardless. They banned people from using food stamps to buy beer and cigarettes and they still are being bought.” and “I think unfortunately, the public assistance system keeps people in a vicious cycle. And while they are meant to help families in their time of need, there are very little efforts to actually educate on healthy living and eating”, I do believe it should be their own money that purchase these items and not taxpayer money. I feel that if you are going to screw up your health, it should be by your own means. I do not want to be a contributor to another’s demise, whether willingly or not. By keeping these items on the food stamp system, it takes away from the nutritious program it was designed to be in the first place. Couple that with little education, people will begin to take advantage of the system created without obesity in mind.
In a country where obesity is beginning to be the standard rather than the exception it was a couple of decades ago, it seems rather odd that the country did not adjust their food stamp standards to handle such issues. As the FDA became lax on some rules and regulations concerning their foods, it is my belief that the Food Stamp system should have changed to keep the program nutritious. It is almost as if it was purposely kept basic to sabotage citizens who may use it. Just my opinion…

Maitai October 8, 2010 - 10:16 AM

I wonder if people will take it back to the old days and buy kool-aid packets and sugar.

I definitely agree with this, nobody is saying they can’t buy it for themselves with their own money, just not on the taxpayers dime.

cindy March 7, 2013 - 10:41 PM

People who receive food stamps are taxpayers just like you are.Just because they have low income and need assistance does that mean you have more right to tell them what to do with them?The way our economy is headed everyone will be poor, Lets see how it feels when the shoe is on the other foot.

Heli October 8, 2010 - 10:18 AM

I commented on another blog about this yesterday so forgive me for cribbing some of my own words here. Also, let me preface this by saying that when I was a little kid and my mom was newly single and working, we received food stamps to supplement our grocery budget. We also got assistance later when my mom, still single, was fighting ovarian cancer and on disability. I understand the stigma of need and the last thing I want to do is get on a high horse as a taxpayer and tell people what they should and shouldn’t do.

That said…

Without question soda should be restricted–it’s not food. Neither are sugary drinks like Sunny D, Kool-Aid, etc. That is a simple fact. Soda isn’t food! It’s non-nutritive. It doesn’t have vitamins, minerals, or useful calories. It’s a treat, and if a person chooses to buy it, it should come from their treat/entertainment/luxury budget, not their food budget. I don’t care if someone spends $5 from their welfare/unemployment check to buy soda–who the hell am I?–but food stamps are for FOOD.

As much as I’d like to see everyone (especially children & people living in poverty) eating a more healthy diet based on whole foods, I balk at the idea of further food stamp restrictions based on the nutritional profile of foods, though. I could see them arbitrarily restricting full-fat cheese or avocados or nuts simply because they are high-fat foods, and that would be a mistake.

I wish there were a way to make food stamp dollars go further on produce or frozen veggies, dairy, unprocessed meat, whole grains, etc. With added value (let’s say $1 could be worth $1.25 if spent on produce, for example) perhaps they could be nudged towards making better choices. I can’t say, though, that they shouldn’t be allowed to buy a bag of sugar to bake with, or a pound of noodles & can of mushroom soup to make tuna casserole, simply because I think those foods are less healthy and my tax dollars pay for their food & healthcare. We have to be reasonable here. It’s hard to steer away from Rice-a-Roni, Jiffy mix, Top Ramen. They’re cheap, fast, easy, calorie-dense, and tasty. Should food stamps buy Honey Nut Cheerios vs regular Cheerios? Sugar-sweetened yogurt vs plain? Plain oats vs the convenient little sugary packets of instant oatmeal? Who’s going to decide? The same agencies (under intense pressure from lobbyists) who currently recommend a diet based on refined sugar & flour?

Soda, though, that’s a no-brainer. Add it to the list w/alcohol, it has no nutritional value.

LaShaundra October 8, 2010 - 10:22 AM

It’s not really going to do anything. If they really want to make an impact, stop subsidizing corn. So you can’t buy soda, you can still buy a thousand and one other products with high fructose corn syrup as a major ingredient.

BrooklynShoeBabe October 8, 2010 - 11:17 AM

As a New Yorker & tax payer & a (diet) soda drinker, I am for this type of regulation with the food stamps. I would like to see, and maybe this isn’t financially feasible, some type of 1 day food-shopping or nutrition class so people on food stamps can make wiser decisions. Some people just don’t know how to shop.

I am for this more than I was for a tax on soda. I am not a smoker and I think it is a horrible habit, I am also against the heavy taxes on cigarettes in NY. They whole idea of “sin taxing” bothers me because where do we draw the line? Are we going to put an extra tax on high heel shoes because constant wear can cause bad feet and back problems?

We need more education; less shaming; and healthier options in the areas that need it the most. (Let tell you, when I was growing up it was hard to get decent groceries in my hood. IF you had a car, you had to go out to the rich or “white” neighborhoods to buy healthier or better grades of food.)

I have to say since being turned on to your website a couple of weeks ago, I’m enjoying it and learning from it. I’m not trying to lose weight but I am trying to be healthier. Thanks.

Moni October 8, 2010 - 11:46 AM

While I applaud the reason, I cannot agree with it. They are banning people from drinking soda, yet High Fructose Corn Syrup is in practically every food that is on the shelves. The best farmers market in NYC (Union Square) doesn’t even take stamps (and is open daily), the farmers markets all around the city are only around for two days around the city. I’m all for people being healthy, but when you start dictating what people eat…what’s next? OK, so you are banning soda, yet they started selling cloned meat (FDA approved in 2008) and as of last month, they have informed us that they are going to sell cloned fish. It’s supposed to be labeled, but let’s get real…if they label it, no one is going to buy it. So what’s the real deal here?

Madame: The Journey October 8, 2010 - 11:50 AM

I think the ‘it’s taxpayer money, so they should be eating this or that way’ argument is relevant, but the effort from that perspective doesn’t really sit that well with me. I can’t get past us (taxpayers) demanding an adjustment of behavior for those in need, that we don’t generally practice ourselves. Class war-wise, this could get ugly. I don’t support or contest it, but I do think it’s misguided. I need to dwell on this a bit more. Touchy stuff.

Erika October 8, 2010 - 11:53 AM

I’m intentionally staying out of this for now.. but there is some amazing stuff in these comments. My gosh, y’all are brilliant.

Cheryl October 8, 2010 - 12:15 PM

Has there been studies done on how foodstamps are being spent? Is there evidence that a disproportionate amount of the funds are being used for soda? There is no question that there needs to be some education, but I think that there is a general perception that recipients are not making good choices, and do not care to. What about those people in underserved areas where they do not have fresh produce and whole grains available? Last I checked, the red and yellow on the corner did not carry broccoli.

Missb1203 October 8, 2010 - 12:15 PM

Im loving all these comments. I think my biggest issue with this is the shaming factor. The part that seems like its being said, “how dare ya’ll poor behinds drink soda and get fat?!” The thing is, unless a person changes the way they have been conditioned to eat these kinds of food, then they will still continue to drink them. So they will just find another way to obtain these things.You have to change the mindset and educate the public on healthy ways to eat and show them how to stretch those dollars. Because it can be very frustrating to eat healthy when a person feels like they cant afford it. I also take issue when people speak of using tax payers money because not everyone on public assistance has been receiving these funds for years. Perhaps they worked for many years and have now fallen on hard times. So the tax money they formerly paid for years is now coming back to serve them. I’m a single mother, I work full time and go to school. I dont get a dime of child support and i am completely ineligible for any of the public programs in my state. I really have to make my dollars stretch. I can understand what this law is trying to do, but something just doesnt sit right with me.

Heli October 8, 2010 - 1:35 PM

I agree that HFCS is a major culprit in obesity and an insidious ingredient that’s become ubiquitous, but I don’t know that banning an ingredient is a good approach. Like it or not, HFCS is in everything from bread to salad dressing to ketchup, and it’s not going away (even if they do change the name!) Yes, soda contains HFCS, but IMO it’s not the HFCS that makes soda a bad choice, it’s that it has no other redeeming nutritional qualities. I feel the same way about sugar-sweetened imported Coke which doesn’t contain HFCS. I would LOVE to cripple the corn lobby and get them to stop poisoning us (or, rather, get us to stop paying them to poison us!) but restricting corn products/HFCS on food stamps isn’t an effective way to do that.

Totally agree with BrooklynShoeBabe about sin taxes. They’re inherently regressive, so they hit the poor & working folks the hardest.

Tamz October 8, 2010 - 1:48 PM

To me, these regulations are past due. I am sure most people have heard of the WIC (women,infants,children) program and the nutritional component. If not, its a Federal program for the low income women, infants and children. Recipients have a WIC card and can buy food (but only certain nutritious, WIC approved foods)… not just any sugary kids cereal.

This sounds like it would take the food stamps program in a healthier direction, and make it make more sense. Seeing as how there is already a federal program that does ban certain foods, banning something as unnecessary as pop seems the fiscally and nutritionally responsible thing to do.

(sorry if this point has already been made, I’m in a hurry).

Maitai October 8, 2010 - 2:08 PM

I am seeing some comments that people say these folks are being shamed. I don’t really get that perception. I heard the Mayor speak today and he said that people can buy whatever they want, but it will not be at the cost of the taxpayers. I don’t really see how that is shaming anyone. They can still use their own money and purchase whatever snacks and sodas they want, and I’m sure they will. But I agree that if people had more options to purchase fresh food then maybe things would be different, cause the bodegas on the corners barely carry anything of value.

T.R. October 8, 2010 - 3:35 PM

Hmmmm, I definitely feel everyone has made some excellent points. I agree to varying degrees with everyone…LOL. I kind of live by the Malcolm Gladwell position that a small thing can be a “Tipping Point” for something bigger and more substantial. For example as a lot of people stated it probably won’t stop people from buying soda etc BUT it may slow them down and that is major especially with children. So if with food stamps you heaped on 7 bottles of soda maybe with your own money you only do 5 or 4. Now to those of us who are nutritionally aware that may not seem like much but I think it’s a giant leap for people who are not. Again, we are talking about people who may have little or no awareness or understanding of nutritional value and health. Soda adds ALOT of empty calories and I’d be willing to bet about 1/3 of poor peoples dietary calories etc, comes from those empty soda, nasty juice products. Cutting back on 1 or more bottles will make a difference. It may not be the kind of difference we all want to see but as most of us know change is a journey and for many people this could be a start. Now it’s not the holey grail but it is a start which could lead to a major “tipping point” a few years from now. Even if you give people classes that may not mean anything. You also have to change their taste buds, habits, teach them that healthy does not equal expensive, how to budget, cook, etc. The less you do something the more you don’t want it. This issue of being healthy is not a “linear one size fits all” concept. I think we should try different things and those that work we keep, those that don’t we can either tweak them or get rid of them. But at least NYC is trying something and for that I commend them. Maybe if this works they can move people to more clean eating and to the poster above who said the only 7 day a week farmers market doesn’t take food stamps maybe this can be a start to seeing that happen soon. Just a thought.

Raven October 8, 2010 - 4:25 PM

I think its a terrible idea. They should just ban the route of the problem, HFCS, instead of punishing poor consumers who cannot afford a more costly, yet healthy, alternative (aka healthier foods). If they are so concerned with the eating habits of the poor, how about they lower the prices of healthy food products and make them more accessible to people who live in poor and/or urban neighborhoods while giving them some sort of education on healthy eating/living?

;asmine October 8, 2010 - 6:36 PM

Even though I don’t drink soda regularly (most sodas are great with vodka) or “sugar water’ of any variety, I’m in complete disagreement with the NYC ban.As a taxpayer, my money is forfeited without any strings attached. If I can’t tell my gov’t to divert my taxes away from the war, then I shouldn’t be able to tell someone on gov’t assistance what they can/cannot buy with their ebt cards. I think the ban is elitest and will not have an no affect on the poverty/obesity of NYC. I think greater access to better foods and nutritional education would be more helpful but restrictions on what/how other Americans choose to feed themselves or their families shouldn’t exist.One of my friends is a dual degreed unemployed FA who uses her ebt card at Whole Foods and BJ’s wholesale. There’s been a couple bbq’s with free range chix and wild caught salmon, courtesy of the ebt card and I’m sure there’s lots of folks on the HFCS diet that would oppose. Rich or poor, to each’s own. This is still America.

Wow! September 19, 2011 - 4:23 PM

I agree!

tdixonspeaks October 8, 2010 - 9:16 PM

I was so hoping you’d write on this, though you’ve carefully sidestepped giving your thoughts…

As someone who grew up on food stamps, and currently uses them as a single person, as a New Yorker, as an unhealthy eater, I get a lot of assumptions made:

1. Poor=unhealthy eating=uninformed consumers. I, and lot of public assistance users, are full aware of what to eat and what not to eat. Juice vs soda, hell, water over juice (then they’ll argue: why are taxpayers paying for water when they can drink tap for free?), produce over …well you get the idea. Trust, people on food stamps know their bang for their buck. And if food stamp users want fruit/veggies/non-sugary drinks, they’ll use their stamps towards it.

However, I wonder if “healthier” grocery stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe always accepted food stamps. Also, if were going to make the argument that food stamp users should be spending on healthier choices, how bout we put some of those stores where FS users are? I do give props to green/farmer’s markets accepting them too, but again… The degree of users wanting healthier options is a bell curve, like most samplings. Maybe its a little flatter, but FS users are not eating in a junk food/health food dichotomy.

2. Food stamp users aren’t buying soda all willy-nilly, nor are they buying it by the caseload for their 17 children. Well, ok, some families do, and are, but I’m pretty sure I’d judge them whether they’re using stamps or cash. I’ve seen people with cases of soda like its going out of style. But now I’m getting shut down because I wanted a 20oz of coke? Not the same.

3. I really don’t like the comparison of “well look what else you can’t buy w/ FS.” cigarettes and liquor are drugs. Duh. Hot food I can understand, but whole foods allows me to buy prepared sushi and salads. Duane Reade, I can get parfaits, wraps/sandwiches and prepackaged lunches. Most bodegas will make you a hero on FS. And don’t go to the Bronx-EBT is like Mastercard. If we go with the “soda isn’t food” argument, there’s a boatload of non-food that users should be banned from buying. Should we ban items on the matter of sustenance?

Banning soda purchases on FS seems like a no-brainer, but something doesn’t sit right about it. Making choices about any risks is about moderation: a couple sodas, one thing. 3 liters and gallons of sweet tea every week? Maybe if there was an automatic cap-a percentage of FS that can be spent on soda/sugary drinks? I’d be ok with that.

Side note: you’re not supposed to be able to buy Red Bull or energy drinks on FS either, but some stores allowed it.

Taylor October 10, 2010 - 1:30 PM

I love this website, and I consistently get energized by the debates. However, on this subject I think we are failing to recognize an important point…

What about water? Why aren’t we educating people to drink fresh clean water, instead of kool-aid, soda, etc? You can add lemon, cucumber, and almost any type of berry to give fresh (and most importantly FREE) water a different taste. Our ancestors were not drinking any of these sketchy chemical laden HFCS products, and we shouldn’t drink them either. In a society where a majority of adults do not get enough water on a daily basis, I think banning soda seems like a band-aid on a larger wound. Educate people to drink water first!

j. October 22, 2010 - 12:47 PM

ok, so I have to put my two cents in. We get foodstamps and we still work but not enough to cover our grocery bill. That being said I don’t think it is right that they should ban sodas from being bought on FS. One we pay our taxes just like everyone else and We don’t spend a lot on sodas. We try to buy healthy foods like fruits, veggies, meat and other healthy foods. The one problem I have with this whole thing is that instead telling us what to buy why don’t they educate and make it so these health foods are less expensive. Our grocery bill is high even with the FS we still pay out of pocket just to pay for the healthy foods. So I think they need to go back and revise the program a little and make it so health foods are not so expensive then I think there would be an increase of FS users buying it. I treat my kids with cookies or soda like twice a month and let me tell you it is not a whole lot. But they enjoy it. People buy junk food or (what is considered junk food to others) because it is cheaper and you can get more of it in large quantities. That is my view on things.

seand October 29, 2010 - 3:14 PM

I have been getting food stamps for 3 months . i never buy soda snacks or candy . its a waste when i have just enough to buy food. You’re right its the public’s tax dollars (and mine – I work) that go for buying people junk.

emma July 15, 2011 - 1:26 AM

I agree with the sentiment behind the project but I think a percentage cap would be a more educational model. This way people will naturally have to control their eating habits or at least consider it. Also I work as a cashier at a Whole Foods in the Northeast and there are PLENTY of people using EBT. Whole Foods can be exoticized all it wants but it is still a grocery store. The only thing it doesn’t accept ianal WIC. Also in my area farmer’s markets accept food stamps. I think a push toward all farmer’s markets or produce stands recognizing WIC and food stamps would be a powerful weapon against this plague of ill health and poor eating habits

Wow! September 19, 2011 - 4:27 PM

Ok I must say this. I recently started recieving foodstamps and even with them helping me I still can’t afford to buy junk food! I have just enough to make half way decent meals through out the month. For all the people saying oh they are using tax payers money! NEWS FLASH I to pay taxes and high taxes at that! Do people need to eat better……..Yes! Can someone else make them………..No! The key is education not restriction!

jamie February 1, 2012 - 12:39 PM

okay I used to drink pop since I was old enough to walk, it’s all I remember in my b0ttles from a certain age. I’m now 26 and I haven’t had a lick of soda since 2007 when my father passed. we were so poor all we had was pop to drink, we’d buy a 2 liter and drink on it for a day or two just so we had something in our stomachs. I miss those days, of having something to make me feel full all the time. Now if I dont have something to eat, I can’t go “oh let me get 50 cent and buy a soda” it’s i’ll have to wait til I can wrangle up some food. many people think oh people who get food stamps get a lot, no, not true at all my brother only gets 100.00 a month he was homeless for 3 yrs after my dad died. he broke his back working at a pickle factory, and can’t get a job anywhere, he just sells news papers on the street corner. My entire family is a military family, but do they get any benefits? NO. because people think that poor people, and veterans deserve anything. I think that if someone wants to buy pop on what little assistance they get, who is the rest of the world to say they can’t. they aren’t hurting anyone but themselves, so let them. it’s not like they are forcing you or your families to drink, or smoke or do drugs. it’s their life, and I think that all the years my mother put into the airforce, and my dad (God rest his soul), and my uncles, and my brother, they should be able to buy a 12 pack of pop. But it seems like society is telling those people who have worked since the age of 14, and who now need help, crawl in hole and die. GOD BLESS AMERICA!!

Lisha December 9, 2012 - 7:56 PM

My question would be: have there been some type of study that said people on foodstamps eat less healthy than those not on food stamps? What would this accomplish, when they can still buy other non nutritional foods on food stamps? Another thing I need to express is that most people I know on food stamps also work and pay taxes, so that argument is moot. Just to educate people, the food stamp program is just a supplement, meaning the person recieving it does not get enough to cover their full month worth of food; they have to work to pay for their food too.

Danielle December 9, 2012 - 10:39 PM

Food stamps are to help people feed their family. Soda can’t provide any nutrition, so I have no problem with the ban. If someone wants to drink it, no one is stopping them; however, they will just have to spend their own money. I don’t understand what the fuss is about. If a university gives you a scholarship, the money is yours, but you can’t just go shopping with it. Money that’s not yours typically comes with restrictions.

Kay December 11, 2012 - 12:34 AM

I wonder who the soda industry pissed off. People aren’t going to be less obese if pop is banned. The soda industry is just going to lose money. I hate inititives like this, that act like they’re doing some kind of good, but really just have political agendas. As if people aren’t going to be just as obese drinking juice.

maljazur January 20, 2013 - 9:24 AM

I’m more for advocating healthy choices rather than treating food stamp recipients as if they are incapable of making good decisions. Education about the harmful effects of soda when clients recertify their food stamp benefits, along with affordable alternatives is more dignified to me. To assume that food stamp recipients have not paid any of the taxes that provide their assistance is arrogant and faulty. To assume that nonfood stamp recipients are making healthy choices is also faulty. This is not a food stamp issue. This is an information issue. To ban soda purchases with food stamps is unnecessarily shaming and insulting. We ALL need the education.

D Scott February 8, 2013 - 1:10 PM

Hogwash! All Hogwash! We are on the road to dictatorship if I’ve never seen or heard it before. Taxpayers pay for healthcare for those who don’t receive public assistance fs/healthcare, but taxpayers are still responsible for footing the bill when they have to go to the doctor or hospital b/c of poor food choices or chigarettes/alcohol/drugs/etc. you name it, that are affecting their health. So the real question is, are the states and government really concerned about ALL people being healthier or just trying to be dictators to the less fortunate? What is left to be said to those who buy junk w/their own money, don’t receive assistance of any kind and have not secured health insurance for themselves and go to the emergency room with clogged arteries and high cholesterol on tp dollars? NOTHING

katie June 19, 2013 - 8:31 AM

My opinion. #1 yes some people on food stamps are workers. They are called the working poor. # 2 elderly receive food stamps to cover most of their food bill. Hmmm….like $112.00/month. That’s like $27.00 a week. Can you live off that? They were once workers whom paid taxes. #3 soda is cheaper than milk or juice. #4 with that said cheap food IS fatting, but food stamp users can’t afford the better healthier food. #5 how would you like to be a working poor person told what you can and cannot eat or drink? Do we not live in America? Think about this – if you loose your job and must get food stamps would YOU like to be told what you may drink?

sim June 25, 2013 - 11:37 PM

I would like to tell you a story but dont judge. My husband and I worked very hard I have 6 children. I also went to school I have a masters in business. My husband lost his job because they moved to a different country. So I was the only one working at the time I payed taxes up the but like everone else. I tyed and tyed we were not making it so I had to get food stamps so I could feed my family. My husband was looking every where for a job but no one was hiring. They where laying off so it took two years for my husband to find a job. So just to let u know dont judge people jow dare u and let u know if I payed all those yaxes for all those years I dam well use them to buy soda or a brithday cake. No we are not on them now but every penny counted to pay my bills so what ur saying is kids are not allowed to have a brithday cake or a treat. And not my kids are not fat and they have very helthy teeth.

Leta October 7, 2014 - 4:37 PM

Ok I know I am not from NY but another state. I receive food stamps and I also work as a cashier at a major grocery store in my area.

I have seen many people on the first of the month come through my line with 2 carts, one full of cases of pop. This makes me mad. Yet I object to the government cutting all soda out. I get 2-8pks of 12 oz bottles for 4 of us in the family and 2-2 liter bottles of pop for one member that is caffeine free diet. This is all for the whole month that is drank in my whole house. 2-12oz bottles a person for a whole month is not in excess and is a treat. I think they should put a limit on the amount per person in the house.

Also I was shocked to hear what can be bought in NY on FS. In our state you cannot use them at a restaurant for any reason. They only made this exception one time when a town was destroyed by a tornado and only those from that town could.

I think that they should change the FS setup to work more like WIC… x amount to be spent on fresh food (produce), x amount for sugary drinks (soda, etc), and the rest on other food… this way they can prorate the fresh to allow more to be bought, while reducing the amount of sugary foods. For example take the whole FS amount of 400.00 subtract 50.00 and double that to allow 100.00 for fresh food.

no-one’s suggestions will be perfect but it we were actually heard and you put head together we could come up with better solution.

Richard May 12, 2015 - 7:35 AM

To all that think this is good to force people to lose their right of choice and rights of life choices when then say you cant own a gun no more and when they say you have no freedom of any kind of speech or when they say what car you can buy only or what house you can live in, remember you said you think its alright people have no choice what to buy to consume products. the whole point is give the government an inch they will take a mile. you all never learn that is what so funny.

Erika Nicole Kendall May 14, 2015 - 8:45 AM

Couldn’t agree more.

It astounds me the people who are very Big-C Conservative in their values…until it’s time to talk about the poor.

PCote May 25, 2016 - 1:39 PM

Reading through the comments has enlightened me. Originally I thought yes, soda should not be allowed on food stamps but as I read I realized the real issues are education and availability of healthy foods.
In the early 80’s I lived in California and received WIC for my young children. In order to receive WIC I had to attend very informative classes on health and nutrition. It has been over 30 years since i took those classes and what I learned has helped me to make better shopping choices all my life. Perhaps a similar program for food stamp recipients would be helpful.

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