State lawmaker wants to stop junk food from being purchased with food stamps
Photo: Video by tmj4.com
NEENAH - "It's taxpayer dollars and maybe we should have a say on how it's spent," said State Representative Dean Kaufert, a Republican from Neenah.
Representative Kaufert would like to see changes to the Foodshare program that would encourage healthier eating.
"I've talked to convenience store cashiers who say they are just appalled at some of the buying decisions," Kaufert said.
Kaufert would like the Department of Health Services to make a list of "healthy" and "unhealthy" foods. Food stamps could not be used to buy any "unhealthy" foods.
“It would lead to better buying decisions, better spending decisions, make their dollar go further and make their taxpayer feel better about how those dollars are being spent," Kaufert said.
The state runs Foodshare, but it's actually a federal program. Wisconsin would have to ask for permission before limiting the kinds of food people can buy. Other states have asked to make changes before. The USDA says plans like Kaufert's won't work, because there's no way to categorize foods as good or bad - and it would be too expensive.
"Thought, oh my gosh, this is really uninformed. It's not going to work," said Sherrie Tussler, Executive Director of the Hunger Task Force.
Tussler argues she's all for promoting healthy eating, but Kaufert is going about it the wrong way.
"I know that government can't decide for us what we purchase at the grocery store, it's just not realistic."
The Department of Health Services is looking at the proposal, but doesn't have a position on the legislation yet. Kaufert does not know how much this pilot program would cost.