Arkansas Bill Would Stop SNAP Users from Using Benefits to Buy Junk Food

LEIPZIG, GERMANY - MAY 23: A man with a large belly eats junk food on May 23, 2013 in Leipzig, Germany. According to statistics a majority of Germans are overweight and are comparatively heavier than people in most other countries in Europe.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

An Arkansas lawmaker introduced a bill on Thursday that would prohibit food stamp users from using their benefits to buy junk food.

Arkansas state Rep. Mary Bentley (R-Perryville) filed House Bill HB1743 to keep food stamp users who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits from spending their allotted benefits on soft drinks, energy drinks, candy, and dietary supplements.

Bentley wrote in the bill that the legislation would try to combat the obesity crisis in the state, which currently ranks seventh in the U.S. for having the highest adult obesity rate.

“Overconsumption of foods, food products, and beverages containing large amounts of sugar increases the risk of obesity, diabetes and other diseases,” the text of the bill reads.

Bentley introduced a similar bill in 2016, but it failed to pass in the 2017 legislative session.

The bill in its current form calls on the state’s Department of Human Services to request a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), so they can revise the definition of what foods can be purchased using SNAP benefits.


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