“The intention of the bill is to get the food stamp program back to its original intent, which is nutrition assistance,” said Rick Brattin, the representative who is sponsoring the proposed legislation.
Curbing food stamp purchases of cookies, chips, energy drinks, and soft drinks at least falls in line with the food stamp program’s mission to provide nutrition. Nutrition experts are already discussing whether to remove unhealthy items from the list of foods participants can buy.
But seafood and steak? Seafood has been shown, time and again, to be a healthy part of any diet. And steak is such a broad category that it’s essentially banning people from buying any flat cuts of beef, from porterhouse to flank.
“It just seems really repressive,” said Mark Rank, a professor at Washington University and author of the book Living on the Edge: The Realities of Welfare in America. “I don’t see how it makes any sense to ban some of these foods. Fish is something that should really be in your diet. And steak, what does that mean in this context?”
Brattin admits that the language might need some tweaking. “My intention wasn’t to get rid of canned tuna and fish sticks,” he said. But he also insists that people are abusing the system by purchasing luxury foods, and believes that that must be stopped, even if it ends up requiring the inclusion of other less luxurious items.
“I have seen people purchasing filet mignons and crab legs with their EBT cards,” he said. “When I can’t afford it on my pay, I don’t want people on the taxpayer’s dime to afford those kinds of foods either.”
This could be a tough one. I agree… food stamp recipients should not be buying chips, cookies, etc. on the tax payer dime. But I think some steak products and some seafood products should be covered. Obviously, if you are on the tax payer dime, you don’t need to be eating crab legs, lobster, fillet mignon, prime rib, etc. However, I think you need more fish in your diet than canned tuna. I would allow things like shrimp and tilapia to be purchased, as well as some less expensive steaks with a higher lean meat percentage. But steak isn’t necessarily good for you, and not necessary for a healthy meal. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a nice piece of steak and have some thawing for tonight’s dinner. But I don’t even eat steak on a monthly basis. It doesn’t need to be on the food stamp program 100%.
I agree that the food stamp program should be a short term assistance for getting healthy food into people and kids who truly need it. But I think, at this point, without sitting down and laying out very specific items… I think the focus should be on time limits. I think this of welfare as well. You have *insert time limit* to get a job or at least show that you are actively training full time for a hireable job (meaning those classes in underwater basket weaving don’t count). Classes should be offered to assist with resume writing and money budgeting. But once you are out there making a living, the tax payer is no longer going to feed you.