The Hill reports that a bill proposed by Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., would require food stamp recipients to purchase only healthy food. The Healthy Food Choices Act, H.R. 3073 is the latest salvo from Republican members of Congress who have criticized the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps or the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC). In August, it was reported that House Republicans hoped to cut some $40 billion from future SNAP budgets . Roes legislation is specifically in response to a 2012 study, which showed that recipients from the food stamp fund spend approximately $2 billion a year on junk food. As a physician, I realize the importance of healthy eating, and as an obstetrician, Ive seen how the WIC program helps empower families receiving assistance to use taxpayer dollars to purchase healthy, wholesome foods, Roe said in a statement published on his congressional site . If these guidelines are good and healthy enough for women and children, then SNAP recipients should also benefit from adhering to the same standards. In June, Roe voted in favor of proposed legislation that would apply work to welfare standards to food stamp fund recipients . Critics of Roes proposal say that the tighter nutritional requirements would actually be more of a burden for low-income individuals and families who rely on SNAP funds. They also point out that Roe previously opposed efforts by first lady Michelle Obama to improve national school lunch nutritional standards . Roes bill would require SNAP food purchases to adhere to the same nutritional guidelines required under the WIC program. But some critics have said that even WICs requirements are not based on science and need fine-tuning to ensure they are nutritionally sound. Still, Roe said his intention is to improve the health of SNAP recipients by helping to ensure that they eat more nutritious meals with their funds.
GOP bill would ban using food stamp funds on junk food
Backers of the bill say they want to curb waste and abuse. I think a lot of our members want to finally make real reforms to the food-stamp program, said Representative Steve King, an Iowa Republican and senior member of the House Agriculture Committee, which has jurisdiction over the programs. The goal is to ensure that while you have a safety net you shouldnt be giving welfare benefits to people who are able-bodied and capable of getting a job who just choose to continue to get food stamps when they can actually go and work. Spending on domestic nutrition assistance programs would reach $764 billion over 10 years if current policies continue, according to a June report on farm bill spending from the Congressional Research Service . The report cites the non-partisan CBO, which gauges the cost of legislation for U.S. lawmakers. The CBO hasnt publicly released an estimate for the food-aid bill. End Benefits The food-assistance bill would end benefits to as many as 6 million low-income people, according to an August report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities , a Washington-based group that studies the governments impact on low- and moderate-income families. The group wrote that it relied on reports and public comments from Republicans describing the measure. The bills text hasnt been released. The increased demand on already-strained local services and charities would be substantial – either displacing support for other needy residents, such as seniors and low-income working families, or leaving those cut off without sufficient food, the group wrote in its report. The cuts in the food stamp bill are expected to be roughly double what House lawmakers considered earlier this year. House Republicans sought to cut $20.5 billion over 10 years from nutrition programs including food stamps in H.R. 1947. That bill was defeated in part because Democrats balked at food-stamp work requirements and in part because some Republicans said the food-cuts were too small.