New bill would prevent people from using food stamps to purchase steaks, lobsters and junk food

Republican State Senator Patty Ritchie also wants to prevent folks from buying non-nutritional items like decorated cakes and energy drinks

A New York legislature has proposed a bill to prevent people from purchasing “luxury” grocery products with food stamps.

Republican State Senator Patty Ritchie wants to prevent folks from buying high-end items such as steaks and lobsters. She also wants to limit the purchases of non-nutritional items like decorated cakes and energy drinks.

"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," the bill states.

Republican lawmakers have long sought restrictions on what EBT card holders can purchase. However, such restrictions will likely falter in the Democratic controlled Assembly.

"The purpose of is to promote good nutrition, but current rules allow the purchase of junk food and luxury items like high-end steaks and lobster," the legislation states. "Even certain energy drinks, which are subject to sales tax, can be purchased using taxpayer-funded benefit cards.”

"In New York and throughout the United States, obesity has reached epidemic proportions," the bill states. "The goal of this legislation is to improve dietary quality and reduce obesity by ensuring food and beverage items purchased using public benefit cards have been declared exempt by the Department of Taxation and Finance."

According to a 2007 study by the US Department of Agriculture, “no evidence exists which indicates that food stamp benefits directly contribute to poor food choices and negative dietary outcomes, such as obesity.” 

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