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State Senator Roger Katz Proposes Bill To Ban Junk Food From Maine Food Stamp Program

Maine Republican State Senator Roger Katz has submitted a bill that proposes certain restrictions on Maine food stamps. More than 215,000 Maine residents would be affected by the law.

The proposed bill would prevent people using food stamps in order to buy things like candy, fudge and soft drinks. The cut would be to “taxable food items.” Katz described his reasoning, saying, “Here's the deal - the food stamp program is the supplemental nutritional assistance program - I’ll emphasize the word nutritional.”

Non-taxable food items include bread, milk and vegetables. These grocery items would not be affected by the new bill. To be passed, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services would have to ask the federal government for permission to eliminate the junk food items. The Department of Agriculture states that any food item is eligible to be purchased with food stamps because, “No clear standards exist for defining foods as good or bad, or healthy or not healthy."

CBS 13 reports that in 2014 items like M&Ms and dress up toys could be purchased with food stamps.

Katz described the bill, saying, “This bill just says - look, if we're going to be giving taxpayer dollars to people appropriately they should use it to buy nutritional foods.”

He continued, “We're trying to get nutritional food to people who can't afford to buy it necessarily themselves.” 

Senator Katz proposed a similar bill in 2013 but state lawmakers voted against it. Democratic State Senator Anne Haskell said that it has a better chance at passing this time. She said, “I think encouraging good healthy behaviors is an excellent goal, and I’m anxious to look at that bill.”

However, Haskell was apprehensive of banning all items, saying, “You want someone not to be able to get cookies for someone's birthday - if the kids birthday - can you pick up 1.99 cake or can't you?”

Sources: CBS 13 WGME, Bangor Daily News / Photo Source: Bangor Daily News


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