Briscoe Cain, a Texas State Representative, recently filed a bill that would bar SNAP recipients from using their benefits to purchase junk food including energy drinks, soda pop, and candy.
According to The Washington Post, the goal of the proposed bill is to slow the spread of health issues related to poor eating habits.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides over 40 million low-income Americans with over $70 billion in benefits each year. A report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 2016 reveals, roughly 10 percent of these benefits are spent on sugary drinks.
Texas is not the first state to propose a bill intended to limit the ability to spend SNAP benefits on sugary drinks. Back in 2012, Florida proposed a bill with similar restrictions that did not pass. In 2011, a comparable bill was proposed and rejected in the state of New York.
Critics of bills implementing control on what SNAP beneficiaries can and cannot spend their funds on take issue with it being an infringement on the recipients’ freedoms to choose what they do and do not eat.
Unsurprisingly, many have taken to social media since news of the bill broke to share their thoughts on whether food stamp recipients should be allowed to buy junk food.
One Twitter user not only supports the proposed bill in Texas but believes is something that other states should consider adopting as well.
I’ve been demanding this for years... companies that sell potatoe chips, candies, soda pop, donuts, non organic ice cream, and other junk food should not be making billions off food stamps...— Government Rag (@GovernmentRag) May 1, 2019
The Government Rag Educational Alternative News https://t.co/0B1EF5ZVK3
Some Twitter users have insisted it is a great idea as junk food companies have been taking advantage of and making money off SNAP beneficiaries for a long time.
These beliefs are not unfounded as a study by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine revealed stores dedicate more time to marketing sugary beverages on days that SNAP recipients receive funding.
@JoeTalkShow I agree that food stamps shouldn’t be able to buy pop and candy. I’ve personally cashiered for people buy 5 20oz pops and a handful of candy bars with EBT cards and it makes me mad!— Shelly Enabnit (@ShellyEnabnit) May 4, 2019
Some Twitter users admit to feeling angry when they see SNAP recipients using their benefits to buy junk food.
News flash. Not that long ago in Ohio, one couldn’t use food stamps to buy crap. Do a little fact checking before you sensationalize a smart/healthy policy. Pop vs fruit, chips vs veggies, Red Bull vs meat? The US has an obesity problem! What’s wrong with trying to change that?!— Betsy Skrobot (@Betsyskrobot) May 1, 2019
While many are in support of the bill because they agree that low-income families should only be buying staple foods that provide core nutrition on the government’s dime, others say that this might not be a solution. Some take issue with the difficulties the bill could place on families with certain dietary restrictions.
Children with sensory issues, for example, may only have certain snacks that they are able to eat. Others may have certain food allergies. Even the sick and elderly on various medications may have aversions to certain foods and beverages as well. Beyond those difficulties, the government will have to officially define what classifies as junk food.
If the Texas bill passes, it would go into effect in September.