NASHVILLE (WATE) – A Tennessee lawmaker that introduced legislation seeking to ban the use of food stamps to buy items without nutritional value said she has decided not to run the legislation during the 2017 session after she realized it would take an “act of Congress” to enact the legislation.
The bill, sponsored by Representative Sheila Butt of Columbia, would have banned items with high calories, sugar and fat, such as sodas, ice cream, candy cookies and cake from being purchased with food stamps. The measure also prohibited grocers from selling banned items to people on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
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After reviewing the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, Butt said she realized Congress would have to change the definition of what is considered food before the state could limit the types of food that could be purchased or the state would have to ask for a waver.
“Many states over the years have asked for a waiver to be able to make changes to the program and not one has ever been granted,” said Butts. “There is a new administration coming in Washington on Friday and there is the real possibility that state’s rights will be recognized to run their own states, their own programs, defend their own Constitutions and spend their money without hundreds of strings attached from the federal government.”
In the meantime, Butt, who serves on the health committee, said she received several suggestion on viable approaches to encourage people to make better choices. She said the plans to introduce some of those ideas.
More than 1 million Tennesseans received food stamp assistance as of November, totaling nearly $135 million.