Proposed Arkansas bill bans purchase of junk food with food stamps

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A proposed bill in Arkansas would ban the use of food stamps to buy junk food in the state.

The bill, introduced last week by state Rep. Mary Bentley (R), would allow food stamps to be used to purchase only "food products and beverages that have sufficient nutritional value," KNXV-TV reported.

Bentley's proposal aims to reduce Medicaid costs associated with covering obesity-related conditions, Arkansas Online reported. Arkansas is the sixth-most-obese state in the nation, according to the publication.

The bill doesn't specify which foods would be become ineligible for purchase, but many assumed chips, candy and sugary sodas would be on the chopping block.

"Chips and Cokes and candy bars," Bentley said. "People can go buy Red Bull with food stamps, and that's not encouraging health."

Food stamp recipents currently cannot purchase alcohol, tobacco, vitamins or prepared foods with the government assistance program.

Banning the use of food stamps for buying certain foods would require a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA hasn't approved any similar requests before.
President-elect Donald Trump has not announced his choice for Secretary of Agriculture.
Read more at Arkansas Online.