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18 mayors: Limit use of food stamps to buy soda

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Posted at 10:31 AM, Jun 19, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-19 06:43:20-04

NEW YORK, New York (AP) - The mayors of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and 15 other cities are reviving a push against letting government food vouchers be used to buy soda and other sugary drinks.

In a letter to congressional leaders Tuesday, the mayors say it's "time to test and evaluate approaches limiting" the use of the subsidies for sugar-laden beverages, in the interest of fighting obesity and related diseases.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the food stamp program needs to promote good nutrition and should not for items with no nutritional value that "are actually harming the health of participants."

Bloomberg is known for trying to bar eateries from selling sugary drinks in big sizes and has tried before to stop food stamps from going to buy soda. The U.S. Department of Agriculture turned down a 2010 request to let New York City do that.

The USDA declined to comment on Tuesday's letter. The American Beverage Association had no immediate comment.

The other cities whose mayors signed the letter are Baltimore; Boston; Louisville, Ky; Madison, Wis.; Minneapolis; Newark, NJ; Oakland, Calif.; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Portland, Ore.; Providence, RI; Salt Lake City; San Francisco; St. Louis; and Seattle.