Florida lawmakers introduced a new bill last week that would prohibit food stamps from being used to buy soda.
The bill, HB 47, would require Florida’s Department of Children and Families to request a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) guidelines to allow the state to ban the use of food stamps for purchases of soft drinks.
The bill defines “soft drinks” as sweetened, flavored, carbonated beverages.
If the USDA does not grant the waiver, the bill allows the Department of Children and Families to renew its request each year until the waiver is granted.
Under current USDA regulations, food stamp benefits can be used to buy soft drinks and other types of junk food.
However, benefits cannot be used to buy alcohol, cigarettes, pet foods, soaps, vitamins, medicines, household supplies, paper products, and hot prepared foods.
The state of Maine tried to apply for a similar waiver in 2016, but the USDA denied its request. The state did apply again for the waiver this year.
A study released in January found that Americans used food stamp benefits to buy $1.3 billion worth of junk food and soft drinks.