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Should Junk Food be Limited with SNAP in Mississippi?

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 04 Feb 2014 05:53pm | comments

A Mississippi lawmaker is calling for new guidelines for using the federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program also known as SNAP. MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports the intent is to help save lives.

Under SNAP or the food stamp program Mississippians can purchase nearly any food item including soft drinks, snack cakes even ice cream. But Representative Brad Mayo of Oxford believes many of the items being bought with SNAP are setting thousands of Mississippi children up for a lifetime of diabetes, heart disease and other health related issues. 

"It’s very frustrating that Mississippi spends 500 million dollars per year treating issues related to poor diet. And yet we subsidize the purchase of a diet of junk food so people so choose it through our SNAP program. We can’t continue to do that. It fleeces the children who have such a diet and the tax payers."

SNAP is a federal program and Mayo wants Mississippi lawmakers to seek a federal waiver that would allow the state to limit the amount of junk food bought with food stamps.

"In order to put nutritional guidelines in our nutritious  assistance program. And by all indications by our first lady support this would be an issue looked upon favorably. 

In addition to being concerned about what children eat, Oleta Fitzgerald, with the Children's Defense Fund says her group is also concerned that children have food to eat.

"While we want to make sure that the children who have access to food are eating healthy food we want to also make sure that hungry children have access to food as well. That is why we are supporting restoring the cuts to the SNAP program at the federal level because so many of these families are food insecure."

More than 670 thousand Mississippians are currently on the SNAP program. While the measure to limit the purchase of non nutritious foods under the food stamp program died in the legislature yesterday, it’s something the Chairman of the House Public Health Committee says he may consider in the future.  Lawayne Childrey, MPB News.

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