A New York State Senator introduced a bill last week that will put restrictions on what welfare recipients purchase with the state’s food stamp program.
Sen. Patty Ritchie, a self-described small government conservative, plans to make changes to New York’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), by excluding sugary snacks and certain types of costly items.
“At a time when our state and nation are struggling with an obesity epidemic, it is critically important that taxpayer-funded programs help low-income consumers make wise and healthy food choices,” Ritchie says in the bill’s memo.
In the bill, Ritchie specifies items such as lobster, some choice cuts of steak, decorated cakes, and energy drinks that she believes are too indulgent.
“Many of these items aren’t just unhealthy, they’re also expensive,” Ritchie said.
“This legislation would not only help low-income families and individuals stretch their food budgets further and promote health and nutrition, it would also protect taxpayers from abuse of a program that’s intended to help those who have fallen on hard times.”
Under current New York law, EBT cards may be used to buy “non-essential” items such as cookies, cakes and soda, as well as luxury items such as steak and lobster. However, they are not allowed to purchase alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, pet food or prepared food.
Ritchie said that the measure will help improve the state recipients’ public health by limiting EBT use to nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables and granola bars.
According to Raw Story, These types of restrictions have been suggested by Republicans in other states, however this particular measure is unlikely to pass New York’s Democratic majority state Assembly.