A proposed Texas bill would ban residents from using food stamps to purchase junk food, including energy drinks and candy.
Republican state Rep. Briscoe Cain said the bill aims to limit the spread of diabetes and other health complications related to diet. The bill would also prohibit buying potato and corn chips, sweetened and carbonated drinks, and cookies with food stamps.
Sweetened beverages account for 9.3% of purchases made with federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report. Households that did not receive food stamps, by comparison, spent about 7.1% of their food budgets on sugary drinks.
The bill filed by Cain in the House Committee for Human Services in March would become effective this fall, if passed.
His proposal defines energy drinks as beverages containing at least 65 milligrams of caffeine per 8 fluid ounces. Coffee is exempt from the proposed ban, as are fruit and vegetable juices without added sugar or carbonation.
Food stamp recipients could also still use benefits to buy infant formulas, milk products and substitutes and drinks containing vitamins, minerals or protein.
Every county in the nation is home to people who don’t have enough money to buy healthy food, according to a study by Feeding America.
About 40 million low-income Americans receive SNAP benefits to buy food, according to the USDA. Participants must report changes in their income and may have to meet work requirements.