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NYC Says No To Sodas Purchased With Food Stamps

UPDATE [8/24/2011]: The USDA has rejected the proposal to ban soda purchases made with food stamps.

With obesity numbers skyrocketing and the associated medical costs out of control, New York City has decided to make a major change to their food stamp program. The program, now called SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), serves more than 1.7 million New York City residents. City Health Commissioner Tom Farley and New York State Health Commissioner Richard Daines have asked the USDA for a food stamp waiver for two years during which recipients would not be allowed to use their food stamps to buy sodas.

The reasoning behind the program was explained in the Times:

“City statistics released last month showed that nearly 40 percent of public-school children in kindergarten through eighth grade were overweight or obese, and that obesity rates were substantially higher in poor neighborhoods. City studies show that consumption of sugared beverages is consistently higher in those neighborhoods … Anticipating such criticism, Dr. Farley and Dr. Daines said that the food-stamp program already prohibited the use of benefits to buy cigarettes, beer, wine, liquor or prepared foods.”

The piece continued:

“Every year, tens of millions of federal dollars are spent on sweetened beverages in New York City through the food stamp program — far more than is spent on obesity prevention. This amounts to an enormous subsidy to the sweetened beverage industry.”

With more than 40% of most children’s daily intake coming from empty calories, many see this as a welcome restriction, but others see it as a case of “Big Brother” going too far. What do you think? Should the government be able to set limits on the purchases Food Stamp recipients can make with their benefit cards?

December 2nd, 2010

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(Page 1 of 1, 3 total comments)

Frances Morales

I have no problem with the soda ban and would highly encourage the amount of Food Stamps to be increased to where families can serve their children really healthy good foods like fresh foods and vegetables and good protein sources that are heart healthy like shrimp and fish and NY strips.

Sadly, the federal government only allots enough money for 99 cent banquet dinners and filling starches that contribute to the obesity epidemic and cost us down the line in exhorbant medical costs.

If you want the poor to cook like June Cleaver spending an hour cooking for each meal, which I highly recommend, we have to give mom enough money to buy what June Cleaver buys.

You can ban the sodas though. They are worthless all the way around, for the poor and the non-poor. They should just be totally banned for everyone.

Also, alcohol. Worthless and dangerous. Let's ban that too. And Ho-Hos. Zingers, Hostess cupcakes, potato chips of all forms.

Ban it for everyone. Make people start cooking again for their own good.

And don't mistake the state of New York using Food Stamp people's rights for anything other than what it is. A prelude to what government can get away with regarding making decisions for the lives of it's citizens. The people on benefits are the test group, but if it's ok for them... you're next. ;)

posted May 29th, 2011 4:49 pm


I like Megan's suggestion and have always thought that food stamps should come with classes about nutrition and health, and I like the idea of shopping/cooking on a budget. Soda isn't food and you don't need it to survive so it should definitely not be allowed on food stamps.

I praise the communities that allow the use of food stamps/vouchers at farmers markets.

We have family members who state assisted medical coverage for their young daughter. Throughout the pregnancy and until she's five, they have mandatory monthly nurse home visits and they check on my niece, make sure the home setting is safe and OK, and teach mom and dad what they need to know to raise a healthy baby.

posted Dec 2nd, 2010 8:41 pm


I'm in favor of not allowing people to buy soda with food stamps. I don't think people who are getting food stamps have any room to complain about "Big Brother" restrictions from the government. Soda is not only empty calories, it's not even a food. There is no reason to let people to purchase it with food stamps.

Ideally, I'd like to see this extend to the purchase of unhealthy and expensive convenience foods like potato chips or frozen meals. However, I think for this to work, there would need to be programs in place to teach food stamp recipients about how to cook nutritious, easy meals on a tight budget.

posted Dec 2nd, 2010 8:26 pm


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