Arkansas to consider banning food stamps being used on junk food

Arkansas lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban food stamp recipients from purchasing junk food using government assistance.

The bill, which was introduced last week by Republican members of Arkansas’ House of Representatives, would only allow food stamps to be used for “food products and beverages that have sufficient nutritional value.”

While the law does not specify exactly which foods would be barred from being purchased by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, soft drinks, potato chips and candy are among the products likely to be banned if the bill is adopted. 

The state would use guidelines set by the federal government to determine which foods would no longer qualify for the program.

Even if the bill is passed, the federal government would also have to approve Arkansas’s rules.

"Chips and Cokes and candy bars," the bill’s sponsor Mary Bentley told the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette. "People can go buy Red Bull with food stamps, and that's not encouraging health."

Part of the reason for the legislation is to help reduce Arkansas’ high obesity rate. The state is the sixth most obese state as 34.5 of adults are obese.

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