Last week proved to be an intense one in Tennessee. Rep. Sheila Butt proposed the introduction of a bill that does not allow people to use EBT cards in order to buy junk food, ice cream, or soda. EBT cards provide the use of food stamps and are part of the program that provides monthly benefits for low-income families in order to purchase food.
This program, apart from offering food to people who literally cannot afford it, is also meant to improve nutrition among these low-income environments. However, this was not always the case. This is why the bill is meant to stop the purchase via EBT cards of food high in calories, sugar, and fat. Stores are also not allowed to sell junk food to people using EBT cards, otherwise they can be facing fines.
Sheila Butt is planning a food stamp reform. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website states that the purchase of junk food using food stamps is allowed, but the bill proposes the revision of these regularities and their change.
Butt also stated that taxpayer money was used in order to sustain an unhealthy lifestyle that is not productive and it eventually impacts the same budget by creating huge costs for healthcare. She does not approve of the fact that food marked in stores as “EBT approved” is the same food that was banned from being served to children in school lunch rooms.
EBT card owners responded to the proposal of the bill. Madge Johnson, EBT card user, declared that they understood the good intention of the government officials and their concern for the health of the population. However, she found the bill a bit too restrictive. The government should not try to impose people what they should and should not eat.
Since so many EBT card users are homeless, processed food is the only option they have when purchasing EBT approved products. They do not have an oven in order to prepare their food so their last resort is consuming products labeled as junk food. Other people using EBT cards declared they did not consume much junk food, but prices on fresh food and vegetables should decrease so that people were convinced to buy them more often.
The Tennessee Department of Human Services declared they would analyze the legislation and give a decisive answer regarding the possibility of this bill to be enforced.
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