Food Stamps to Ban Sweets in Florida

There is a debate currently taking place in Florida over what exactly families who are using food stamps should and should not be purchasing at the grocery store.

Proponents for the bill claim that there are certain things that food stamps should not be used for, like unhealthy food items such as junk food and snacks.

There are also a small number of claims that the welfare cards which are part of the Temporary Assistance For Needy Families program in Florida are being used in casinos, strip clubs and even places outside of the state.

Those opposed to the bill suggest that it is not the role of government to tell anyone what they should eat or even how to feed their families, but agree that the cards should be used for their intended purpose.

Rep. Scott Plakon, (R-Longwood) and Sen. Ronda Storms (R-Valrico) are the two lawmakers who sponsored the legislation known as HB 1401 and SB 1658.

The ban would make the purchase of items such as soda, cake, ice cream and sweets with food stamps illegal.

"I don't want people to tell me what to eat," said Rep. Dana Young of Tampa. "I just don't think it's right as legislators and as a government to tell anyone what they can eat, even if they happen to be poor, even if they happen to be on food stamps. It's just not our core mission, and I'm personally offended by it."

There are some that make the argument that should the bill be passed it would create more obstacles for families trying to keep the pantry full.

"The proposed legislation creates new hurdles for families already struggling to meet their most basic daily needs," said Debra Susie, executive director for Florida Impact and the Florida Partnership to End Childhood Hunger.

Rep. Gwyndolen Clarke-Reed said the bill would demean and prove invasive for families. She also is concerned that the education campaign that would accompany the bill would make "minorities and low-income folks feel that they're not intelligent enough to make selections on the foods they want."