Should KY Taxpayers Foot the Bill for Soda?


Here’s the story behind South Carolina’s food stamp soda ban proposal.

The founder of Louie’s Kids has been fighting obesity “one child at a time” — as his group’s motto says — for 12 years through summer camp scholarships, health club memberships, exercise groups and more.

When Yuhasz co-chaired December’s “Conquering Tri-County’s Obesity Epidemic” meeting, he said that buying unhealthy food with food stamps is something we as a state (and a nation) should work to eliminate.

He spent a few days in Washington, D.C., last year, meeting with people like Audrey Rowe, the administrator for the Food and Nutrition Service, (aka the food stamp program) as well as congressional staffers.

When he saw that Maine Gov. Paul LePage proposed legislation in January to put sodas on the list of banned items for food stamps, “that’s when I emailed Catherine,” he said. If a few governors could start talking about it, he reasoned, maybe it could happen.

Maybe it could happen here as well.  Kentucky needs a Louis Yuhasz.  Texas lawmakers are also considering similar legislation and their arguments for it are persuasive.

We should not be on the one hand using money, tax dollars, to buy junk food, and then on the other hand using tax dollars to pay for the health-related diseases that come about because of junk food.

There’s nothing nutritious or healthy about these products, and in fact they’re potentially dangerous to children and we don’t believe that you should be able to be using government funds to be buying them.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is getting a great deal of attention for the controversial NYC soda size limit but it wasn’t his first choice for attacking the problem.  In 2011, federal officials rejected his proposal to bar the city’s food stamp users from buying soda and other sugary drinks with them.  Bloomberg’s statement highlighted the importance of this type of legislation.

We think our innovative pilot would have done more to protect people from the crippling effects of preventable illnesses like diabetes and obesity than anything else being proposed elsewhere in this country — and at little or no cost to taxpayers.  We’re disappointed that the federal government didn’t agree, and sorry that families and children may suffer from their unwillingness to explore our proposal. New York City will continue to pursue new and unconventional ways to combat the health problems that hurt New Yorkers and Americans from coast to coast.

I firmly believe taxpayers should not be footing the bill for soda.  The recent expose, The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food, details Coke’s drive to sell the sugary drink to the poor and vulnerable.  One of the executives had an epiphany on a trip to Brazil.

A voice in my head says, ‘These people need a lot of things, but they don’t need a Coke.’ I almost threw up.

It’s not just the people in Brazil but that quote really got to me after watching this documentary on morbid childhood obesity.  As Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt put it:

We don’t let our kids get addicted to alcohol. We don’t let them become addicted to smoking. Perhaps we should be equally cautious when it comes to soda and high-carb junk food.

We don’t allow food stamps to be used for alcohol or cigarettes.  It’s time to stop allowing them to be used for soda.

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