Food Stamps for Soda
August 19th, 2011
The federal Department of Agriculture has rejected the Bloomberg administration’s bid to bar New Yorkers from using food stamps to purchase soda sweetened with sugar.
The city made its request last fall, proposing a two-year test to see how effective a ban might be. The move – part of the administration’s campaign against obesity — came after the state legislature rejected efforts to put a tax on the sugary beverage.
While soda lobbyists, of course, objected to the restriction on food stamp use, even many public health experts questioned it from the get-go, fearing that it unfairly singled out people who receive food stamp. The agriculture department always seemed unlikely to approve the ban, and some questioned whether it even had the authority to do so without congressional approval.
Rather than a ban, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack reportedly said in a letter, the department prefers to promote ” incentive-based solutions that are better suited for the working families, elderly and other low-income individuals” who get food stamps.
In a statement, Mayor Michael Bloomberg expressed disappointment with the decision. “We think our innovative pilot would have done more to protect people from the crippling effects of preventable illnesses like diabetes and obesity than anything being proposed anywhere else in this country – and at little or no cost to taxpayers,” the statement said.By Gail Robinson on August 19, 2011, 5:49 pm
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