TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – For the second year in a row, a Florida legislator, who is also a medical doctor, wants to ban food stamp recipients from buying soda or candy with their benefits.
Reporters met Deanna Williams outside of a state food stamp office after she got laid off as a 911 dispatcher.
“When you go into this office, sometimes you just feel [this] big,” said Williams.
Williams says a proposal to ban the purchase of soft drinks and candy with EBT cards will only make recipients feel worse.
“I don’’t think it’s right for anyone to dictate what they’re allowed to eat. Or drink,” says Williams.
Nationally, about six percent of all electronic benefits purchases are for soda or candy.
Food stamp recipients are already barred from using their benefits to buy beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco. Nonfood purchases such as pet food and vitamins are also prohibited.
The proposal to deny the purchase of soda and candy is coming from Representative Ray Massullo, a Citrus County physician.
“I see the trend of obese children in our society, and I think it’s important that we provide them nutritional foods,” says Massullo.
Williams agrees. But, she says that when parents spend more money on vegetables, the health gains are lost to lower quality meats and other artificial fillers.
“The worst cuts of meat. The off-brand foods. The foods that are high in fat,” says Williams.
It was the Florida Retail Federation’s opposition that killed the proposal earlier this year. The group says it’s not about sales, but consistency.
“We just want it to be consistent across the board for all our members in all our states,” says James Miller of the Florida Retail Association.
The legislation is one of the first bills filed for 2018.