Buying soda with 'food stamps' could soon be prohibited

Soda Cans
Soda Cans
Posted at 2:35 PM, Aug 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-22 14:41:24-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (The News Service of Florida) - Legislation filed for the 2018 session seeks to prevent people from using food-assistance benefits to buy soft drinks. 

The proposal, filed by Republican State Representative Ralph Massullo would direct the Florida Department of Children and Families to seek approval of a federal “waiver” that would allow the state to ban the use of benefits in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to buy soft drinks.

The program traditionally was known as food stamps.

Bill proponents say the government benefit should only be used for healthy food. However opponents of the measure say there are a number of reasons the legislation is bad.

Cindy Huddleston is with Florida Legal Services, a law firm which represents low-income residents in a wide range of legal issues. 

“I’m not sure that it makes sense for the government to be in someone’s shopping cart when they are shopping, especially in light of the fact that they are spending their money in the same way that all families are spending their money with the occasional sweet or birthday cake for someone who is celebrating their sixth birthday," said Huddleston. "It seems kind of punitive.”

Similar legislation was filed during last year’s session died during the committee process, without being debated on the floor of the House or Senate.