Mayor Bloomberg: New Yorkers Shouldn't Use Food Stamps for Soda

Sean Johnson

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg requested federal permission this morning to ban the purchase of soda and other sugary drinks by using food stamps.

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg requested federal permission this morning to ban the purchase of soda and other sugary drinks by using food stamps.

It’s the latest initiative in a series of moves by Mayor Bloomberg to fight a growing obesity problem. Bloomberg has also imposed stricter rules on the food served to children in schools and has been unsuccessfully attempting to impose a tax on soda and sugary drinks for all New Yorkers.

Bloomberg’s proposal is to initiate a two-year ban on the purchase of soda and other sugary drinks with food stamps for two years to determine whether or not it has a positive effect on the health of the food stamp recipients and their families; if that is the case, it would be the basis for a permanent ban.

“In spite of the great gains we’ve made over the past eight years in making our communities healthier, there are still two areas where we’re losing ground — obesity and diabetes,” the mayor said in a statement. “This initiative will give New York families more money to spend on foods and drinks that provide real nourishment.”

The proposal by Mayor Bloomberg is not unprecedented. In 2004, the Agricultural Department, which oversees the rules and regulations of food stamp programs, denied a similar request by Minnesota to ban the use of food stamps to buy junk food. The Agricultural Department chose not to approve the request, claiming that it perpetuated the myth that food stamp users make poor shopping decisions. In 2008, Maine also attempted to pass the same legislation that Mayor Bloomberg is trying to, but it “drew criticism from advocates for the poor who argued it unfairly singled out low-income people and risked scaring off potential needy recipients.”

Do you think Mayor Bloomberg’s request is off base? Does it represent government becoming too involved in citizens’ lives or does it make sense in order to curb the obesity and diabetes epidemic?

Around the Web:

New York Asks to Bar Use of Food Stamps to Buy Sodas [NY Times]

NY seeks to ban sugary drinks from food stamp buys [Yahoo! News]

NYC Mayor Bloomberg's New Proposal: No Food Stamps for Soda [TIME]