Lawmaker Wants to Bar Families on Food Stamps from Buying Ice Cream or Cake

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Supermarket interior with shopping cart


A Tennessee state Representative and children’s book author on Friday proposed a bill that would ban families who use food stamps from buying things she thinks they shouldn’t be eating, like ice cream, cake, or candy bars.

According to Vice Munchies, Tennessee state Representative Sheila Butt says it’s important for people to “make better choices,” and her proposed law would do that by removing the “choice” part. The law would bar people from using SNAP funds for things like ice cream, cake mix, and candy bars, and people caught violating the law would be fined between $1,000 and $1,5000.

Butt says that allowing people to use SNAP funds on unhealthful foods is “counterproductive, counterintuitive, and costly.”

Vice points out that Butt has previously said that the U.S. Government needs to establish a Council on Christian Relations and an NAAWP, which would be a “National Association for the Advancement of White People.”

Also, Butt is the author of a children’s book called “Does God Love Michael’s Two Daddies?” which is marketed as an effort to “combat the promotion of homosexuality” by telling kids that gay people need to “stop sinning and turn to Jesus.”

Nutrition is a huge problem in the U.S., but this goes way beyond what families on the SNAP program are eating, because unhealthful eating patterns are the norm across the country, including non-SNAP families. Encouraging more healthful eating is hugely laudable, especially if it involves increasing education and access to healthful foods. But it doesn’t make sense to try to solve the problem by singling out SNAP families when the problem also affects huge numbers of families that are not receiving SNAP benefits.

A lot of people do like to get personally involved in the grocery carts of poor people. Butt recently retweeted a New York Times article entitled “In the Shopping Cart of a Food Stamp Household: Lots of Soda.” It’s an article about a USDA report on what people on the federal SNAP program buy at the grocery store, and while the report does indicate that soda was the most common purchase by households on SNAP, it also indicated that across U.S., “more money was spent on soft drinks than any other item.”

According to the USDA report, sodas are the most purchased item for food-stamp recipients, but they were the second most-purchased item for non-SNAP households. Overall, the USDA said there isn’t really an appreciable difference between the buying habits of SNAP households and the buying habits of the average American household. Healthy eating is an extremely important issue, but it can’t be solved just by singling out families on food stamps.