Banning Use of Food Stamps for Soda Is Just Wrong

Eye Roll 158

SodaAs more Americans, kids especially, are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it's important to have a national conversation about what people should be eating. We need to talk about how we make, sell, and buy our food. But some suggestions are out of line, like that of The New York Times columnist Mark Bittman, who's calling for a ban on soda purchases with food stamps. Because, really, who am I to tell people what they can and can't spend their money on.

It's an argument with merit: sugary drinks cause obesity, which creates health problems, and therefore we should try to help people make healthier choices. But if you tell someone he or she can't have a soda, what's next?

Will you then tell people they can't have cookies? Will potato chips be banned? How about ketchup? French fries? Deli turkey? Eggs? Whole milk?

It seems like you could make any sort of argument for or against the healthfulness of lots of foods. But who am I to decide how other people decide to live their lives and feed their families? Should I have more rights as someone who can afford to pay for my own food without needing food stamps? What kind of society would we be creating if we decided that the rich got to dictate to the poor what they could and could not eat?

Bittman argues that since food stamps can't be used to buy alcohol or tobacco, we should be able to ban high-calorie, low-nutrition foods like soda. But cigarettes ain't food. And while there is a correlation between food-insecurity and obesity, meaning yes, nutrition is lacking, people need to be educated. And food stamps need to be worth more. Newark Mayor Cory Booker had less than $30 to live on for the week he volunteered to live on food stamps.

We need to make healthy food more affordable. We need to make food stamps more valuable. And we need to educate people to empower them to make their own healthy food choices. Telling others what they can and can't eat is condescending.

Do you think people should be able to buy soda with food stamps or should the government limit what people can purchase?


Image via jpockele/Flickr

drinks, healthy choices, obesity


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missusmc missusmc

Pinkmani, Crock pots cost 20 bucks.  Whole foods cook all day on low while you work.  It's actually cheaper to throw some fresh meat and frozen veggies in a crock pot and eat on that for a couple of days than to eat processed, already prepared meals, and its ready for you when you get home from work.

butte... butterflyfreak

billsfan, glad to hear that your recent food choices are helping you to feel better! If you get the chance and haven't already, look into the paleo/primal style of eating. There are many cases of people who suffer from chronic diseases (MS, diabetes, etc) improving their quality of life and overall health by following the paleo/primal way of eating. And if you have any questions, you can friend me through cafemom. :)

nonmember avatar christina

Really billsfan? Have you taken a look at coupons lately? They aren't what they used to be. Sometimes you have to buy 2 or 3 of the same product just to save 50 cents. Do you think that is worth it? And if they don't have a coupon for something they shouldn't be allowed to buy it? You are ridiculous.

nonmember avatar Name

I hate when people say "that's MY money" or along those lines. Your tax dollars could have gone to a pot hole or a bush along the freeway. You have no idea where your specific money is going.

I agree with the article.

ImaSo... ImaSoulMom

And who gets to decide which foods to ban? If they make a birthday cake for their child can they buy cocoa to add to the flour for a chocolate cake? So i assume you are against them buying bags of sugar as well, because sugar makes people obese. Which artificial sweetener can the use? What about the side effects? Juices contain a hell of a lot of sugar. No more juice for kids?

You will waste a lot more taxpayer money in trying to ban these things and have not considered all the factors. Yes, i know "stop drinking soda you fat poor people". Will you teach them how to make these foods from scratch? How?

nonmember avatar christina

Missusmc do you think all families receiving food stamps have extra money to buy a crock pot?

mande... manderspanders

Banning certain foods from food stamps will do nothing to fix the obesity problem.  That is faulty logic at best... but really is just asinine to say.

I would never presume to tell another person what they can and cannot eat (unlike Mayor Bloomberg).

I would also never presume to tell another person what they can and cannot spend their own money on. BUT food stamps are MY money and I absolutely should have a say in what it goes for. I do not work hard to support people who are willfully wasteful.  Food stamps should only be good for the basics:  beans, rice, grains, dairy, veggies/fruits, and some meats (not high end meats).

People seem to forget that government assistance, cash assistance, food stamps, and even social security were NEVER meant to be a sole means of support for a person/family.  They were meant to be a supplement so that people don't STARVE, don't end up HOMELESS, and don't DIE from treatable illnesses.  This would be why the food stamp program is call "SNAP" SUPPLEMENTAL Nutrition Assistance Program.

ImaSo... ImaSoulMom

I think it is a nice thought but will ultimately raise more problems and cost much more. Next trying to ban juices and milk and even cheese can lead to diabetes. Fruit will spike your blood sugar. So will cucumbers. Limit the number of oranges per household? Who decides? There are an infinite number of ways to waste taxpayer money over many different foods. If we open this door, it will not end with soda.

ImaSo... ImaSoulMom

That's right! Just be glad you are not dead poor kid. No birthday cake for you. It's bad enough you expected a present. Enjoy your birthday beans and rice. Now let's spend billions of dollars arguing about it in court!

bills... billsfan1104

TY Butterfly.  I have heard about that, and I am actually going to buy the book this weekend and start cooking.  My sister has already lost 5lbs from eating like that.  I happen to think that the reason I got cancer, was because of processed foods and other things.  I hae three crockpots, so I hope to be doing this real soon. 

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