Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) is calling on Congress to reform the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to ban junk food purchases with federal benefits.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Tuesday, the senator cited data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that 20% of program spending is on unhealthy food and drink.
“More than 40% of adults in the United States are obese, and about half have diabetes or pre-diabetes. We are,” Rubio wrote. “It is immoral, irresponsible and reprehensible that SNAP is instrumental in their proliferation.”
Rubio plans to rework its programs to promote healthier food options such as milk and pure fruit juices, and plans to introduce legislation to “explicitly exclude” sodas and prepared desserts from SNAP. It says that it is standing.
“Common-sense reforms like this will promote healthier diets at no extra cost and reduce health care costs in the long run. They will also start tackling food deserts in low-income communities.” writes Rubio. “If soft drinks and sweets are exempt from SNAP, street corner stores and supermarkets will have more incentive to stock healthier foods.”
According to a USDA report cited by Rubio, 20 cents of every dollar spent on benefits programs goes to “sweetened drinks, desserts, salty snacks, candy and sugar.”
Rubio argues that a coalition of progressive mayors pushed for changes to limit the use of SNAP funds to pay for such food, while Clinton, George W. Bush, and former secretaries of agriculture under former President Obama , the neglect of nutrition in this country results in the death of thousands of Americans every day.
“The former secretary’s plea went unanswered in 2018, but as we work on the next Farm Bill, Congress has an opportunity to get it right,” Rubio said.
“Like everything in Washington, this proposal has its opponents. But there is no compassion or responsibility for spending taxpayer dollars on empty calories that contribute to the health crisis,” Rubio added. .
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