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The Washington Post this morning reports that the Texas lawmakers are considering legislation that would stop people there from using their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, otherwise known as food stamps, for the purchase of energy drinks, sugary soda, candy, and other products referred to as junk food.

The goal of the legislation is to address the health issues often created by poor diet choices.

Some context…

The story notes that SNAP “provides nutrition assistance to around 40 million Americans, in a program costing taxpayers about $70 billion annually. According to a 2016 U.S. Department of Agriculture report, sugary drinks account for about 10 percent of SNAP food dollars spent. A study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that stores market sugary drinks more heavily on days when SNAP benefits are issued, which might in part explain the $7 billion bill for beneficiaries’ sweet tooth.”

Plus, the Post points out that “the Texas bill is not the first time legislators have attempted to limit government subsidies of sugary drinks. In 2012, then-Florida state Sen. Ronda Storms (R) sponsored a bill to restrict the purchase of soda and junk food with SNAP dollars. It did not pass. In 2011, the USDA denied a request by then-New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to bar the use of food stamp dollars to purchase sodas.”

If it passes, the Texas bill would be implemented starting on September 1, 2019.
KC's View:
I’m sure that the lobbyists have descended on Austin in the hope that if they spread around enough cash, both over and under the table, they can somehow forestall this bill from becoming law. But I’ve always thought that this sort of thing is a good idea, that since SNAP benefits are public money, we actually have a responsibility as a culture to not spend it on stuff that isn’t healthy, or that, when consumed, can create health issues that cost us more money.

The Post article actually quotes one expert as saying that “the U.S. agricultural system is designed to favor crops that yield unhealthful processed foods and that more nutritionally dense products typically are 10 times the price.” Which also doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.