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A Ban On Soda Purchases With Food Stamps? Mayor Francis Slay Says It Should Be Explored

Categories: Food, News

mayor-slay-headshot.jpg
via Facebook
Mayor Francis Slay.
St. Louis mayor Francis Slay is not coming out in favor of the infamous soda regulations in New York City -- but he is considering a related idea. That is, he supports an exploration of potential limitations or bans on the purchase of sugary drinks -- with food stamps. Slay this week signed a letter alongside New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and sixteen other U.S. mayors, asking the federal government to evaluate approaches to food-stamp subsidization of sugary beverages.

"He believes that the food stamp program should promote healthy choices and healthy lifestyles," Slay spokeswoman Maggie Crane tells Daily RFT.

Unlike Bloomberg, he is not pushing for any ban at this time, Crane says, but adds, "He thinks it should be looked at."

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"It's more about incentivizing healthy eating than it is about punitive measures," she says.

She points out the letter (on view below) from the group of mayors -- sent to the United States House of Representatives speaker and minority leader -- has only a short mention of sodas, in reference to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the federal food-stamp program:

It is time to test and evaluate approaches limiting SNAP's subsidization of products, such as sugar-sweetened beverages, that are contributing to obesity.

The letter goes on to say, "At the same time, SNAP can also promote healthful eating by providing incentives for the consumption of fruits and vegetables by SNAP recipients, similar to the programs which have been successfully piloted in many of our cities that provide additional spending power to recipients who use their benefits at farmers markets."

The letter opens up with a plea to avoid cuts to SNAP, which is the main reason Slay signed it, Crane says.

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via

Still, regarding new limits on soda, Crane tells us, "Mayor Bloomberg has a much more developed position on soda bans.... Mayor Slay is not quite there yet."

Bloomberg has gotten a lot of attention for his efforts to regulate supersize sodas in his city and has also in the past pushed for a ban on all soda and sugary drink purchases with food stamps.

Slay, in signing this letter, is simply saying he supports further evaluation of these types of efforts, his office says. And the mayor says debates on soda regulation are secondary to the wider discussions around obesity.

Crane adds in a followup e-mail to Daily RFT, "Food labeling and education is far more important than limiting one item. Just one product is not causing obesity in our region. It's a lifestyle issue, and making nutritional choices across the board. Education needs to be central to this."

Slay also posted this message on Facebook last night, emphasizing that talk of soda bans is not his focus:

I have joined mayors from across the country asking the federal government to study how food stamps are used. I strongly believe that the federal food stamp program should promote healthy choices and healthy lifestyles. That's why, for example, I support allowing food stamps to be used at farmer's markets. That's why I signed the letter.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who sponsored the letter, has his own issues of concern, one of which has attracted a lot of ink today.

Mayor Bloomberg has a much more developed position on soda and sugary drinks than I do. He supports a ban. I don't drink them myself, but I haven't yet gotten all the way to his position. And I am writing this because I don't want the local debate about food stamps and sugary drinks to overshadow a wider issue:

The federal government should develop a food stamp policy to promote healthy lifestyles, reduce obesity and reduce disease. It should look at and address the issue of soda and sugary drinks. That's what the letter we signed says. Some of the mayors who signed the letter are ready for a ban. Some of us are not there yet. But, all of us agree that the food stamp program should promote healthy choices, and should address the obesity epidemic in our country.

Here's the full letter from the mayors.

Snap Letter to House 6-18-13

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.

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145 comments
Sylvio Roberts
Sylvio Roberts

soda really dose put weight on you. if need be, people can buy the ingredients with food stamps to make their own soda!

Casey McBroom
Casey McBroom

Rotflmao... You must not be listening. Education would be handled the same way it was before the gov't took over.... You do realize how private school works, right? Do you understand what inflation is? It's only because the g.d. gov't got involved, that we have the type of inflation we have today, it's called fiat currency. Look it up... Sigh. Furthermore, the F.D.A. has done more than any other organization to keep cures, better food, and general drug use out of your life.. And, many of meds available today were denied to MANY people I've lost to different situations.. That is your ideal in practice: Death.... Last, I didn't sign this social contract of the "WE". I don't owe anyone, anything. If I choose to help someone, that's my choice; but you'll never justify stealing from anyone, if individual rights are in any way to be protected. That's reality. Also, if you're so worried about the g.d. poor people -- you and all those like you can help them.... Stop asserting the right to enslave the rest of us for your misguided whim! P.S. People who are truly worthy of help are VERY small in minority. It's all you appeasers who've made this cradle to grave society possible. You all incentivize failure... So much so, you must debate with the parasite about drinking soda or having lobster... Simply amazing...

Piper O'Neal
Piper O'Neal

NO!!!The law has WAY too much say in our lives as it is.Watch out for BIG BROTHER,he is definatly watching everything you do...

dragonknightcory
dragonknightcory

i say they should stick to something bigger then people buying soda with food stamps some people including myself only buy soda to have to drink plus if they are being a ass about what is healthy food items we would only be able to purchase foods like veges fruits because they are healthy but we wont be able to get chips bread meats or other food items everyone eats daily because its not healthy these health nuts should fuck off with how people live thier lifes its thier life if they want to loose a foot from drinking nothing but soda let them who are we to tell people what they can and cant buy or eat

Kelly Kaufmann
Kelly Kaufmann

Casey - I'm truly curious how you suggest running some things. Can you explain, specifically, how do you suggest handling education? What do you suggest should happen to people born with developmental disabilities whose parents abandon them? Should there be a gov't office that works to prevent inflation? Should there be an FDA? Should water be owned & controlled by private entities or protected and managed by the gov't? Should there be a mayor of cities or no real elected officials? And last - should we, a wealthy first world country, allow our people to be homeless or go hungry if they lose their job or get cancer and sit in the hospital and rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in bills, or should we have a system that they pay into and use if they should be so unfortunate for that to happen?

Sharon Walker
Sharon Walker

I agree...soda is not a nutritional item. Powdered drink mixes are good enough.

Joe Neaf
Joe Neaf

Soda is no better for a person's health then beer, so why not? It would save lives.

Aaron Wilbers
Aaron Wilbers

No problem with it. These people will just be getting taxpayer funded healthcare to deal with the diabetes and other health issues from chugging that crap. While I don't want to go down a Bloomberg'ish Nanny state deal with our government people on public assistance have to accept conditions to save money for other public assistance.

James Madison
James Madison

People receiving food stamps do so out of necessity. Non-essential items ought not be subsidize. However, we are suppose to be free people able to make decisions without government controls. Ideally, the government would have ZERO say in our private lives. It becomes difficult when the government attempts to enslave the masses through bribes. It is the means the government strives to control the populous. The true answer is to remove government from the equation. Individual people through charities must then provide. Food panties would simply not stock non-essential items.

Elizabeth Grill
Elizabeth Grill

Yes, when you have such little resources to spend on nutrition, it should mot be used to purchase empty calories.

Casey McBroom
Casey McBroom

First, I'm not an anarchist, but an Objectivist. So, I believe in gov't as I stated above: Military, Police and the Court. And, all the stuff brought into question existed without gov't intervention. Second, well, my first question covered that. I'm not an anarchist. Sorry about your luck. Third, social welfare is part of socialism. I don't know what part of that you don't understand. It isn't a "simplified definition", it is the definition. Fourth, As I've already stated, the purpose of gov't is protecting you from force. Meaning, I support taxes toward that end only. Subsidies are a form of gov't intervention. However, regulations and taxes outside of protecting rights are, as well. I am for the separation of state and economy. Oh, and finally, you seem (like so many backward thinker) too think I shouldn't benefit from the things I'm being forced into paying for.... Also, you live in some helpless world where you also think they wouldn't exist without your precious deity: Government. Have you stopped and thought that all this talk about rights and what you should get, mean your right to enslave some producer that makes that life possible??? It never ceases to amaze me how much people will argue to justify enslaving their fellow man. I suggest you look at any gov't run Indian reservation... Because that's what you're fighting for. P.S. I am Potawatomi Indian and could live off the gov't.... I don't... It's called integrity.

Dave Marvel
Dave Marvel

I wish I could explore denying soda to poor people and be taken seriously. it would be great. I think francis has something against vess grape. next thing you know he will outlaw st,paul sandwiches and pork fried rice with egg foo young gravy, and he will say that he will direct traffic at gravois and delor in drag.

Allison Whyte
Allison Whyte

"Everything existed without government before, and it will exist without them, again." I'm wondering which society you're thinking of, specifically, that existed without any form of internal governance or acknowledgement of the community as a whole, Casey. Second, I'm curious to hear more about the "Everything" which predates government (not "stems from" government, mind you, but predates it per your comment, above). I suspect there is very little in our modern lives that would actually fit that bill, short of procreation. Where do you stand on governance of that very private choice? Third, I noticed that you took the time to type out the simplified definition of Socialism, but failed to connect that to anything other than your own accusation. Anita's comments do not meet the requirements you have set forth for Socialism. Fourth, you began by stating that the funding for public assistance was, in essence, stolen from you. Does it also follow (in your view) that the funding for the military was stolen from you? Are the annual government subsidies (i.e. public assistance) provided to oil & coal companies stolen property as well? Finally, I wonder if your entire education was from private schools, or have you benefitted from public education? Have you enjoyed a public park, recently? Or seen your way home more clearly and safely thanks to public street lighting, which is conveniently co-located with the paved and maintained pubic streets? Are those services stolen from your pocket as well? I wonder if you've really thought this through...?

Chester Angel
Chester Angel

I'm glad we discussed this also! That sounds like a fantastic opportunity. The difference in obstacles with these clients is just getting them to ask. But once they do it's "game on". Juicing is a huge part of our detox regimen. After detox they are usually pretty enthusiastic....Best of luck and health to you! :)

Martienne Cotter
Martienne Cotter

Hahaha! I didn't! My best friend is a substance abuse counselor, and a woman recently told me she is opening a center for military members recovering from PTSD and wanted my help with meal planning. But, I never even put those two together and considered dietary changes to help recovering addicts! lol I'm glad we had this discussion!

Chester Angel
Chester Angel

Those client LOVE every part of it. And are so honest and forthright. Put yourself in contact with any local rehab facilities in your area if you think you'd like to do the same. Helping people who really need and want it is what it's all about. I started with a couple clients with these needs and have worked off of mainly referral since. Turns out there are plenty of people with addiction issues who really do just want to be better and enjoy optimum health. Who knew?!?! Haha..

Emily K Lohrmann
Emily K Lohrmann

I support this decision, although I'd much rather seen more effort go into screening the people who get them from the start. Years ago I knew a guy who would let other people use his card for a cash payment (of lesser value than whatever they spent at the store). It makes me sick thinking of how many people abuse the program by doing stuff like that. Our nation is experiencing some real financial trouble & I believe it's time to trim the fat wherever possible. Maybe create jobs by creating a position solely for food stamp fraud? They should be provided as aid, not a means to luxury!

Martienne Cotter
Martienne Cotter

Wooooow. I can't believe never thought of that! And, detoxing the right way would really help them get past the initial phase, while nutrition would put them on the path to a new life! *Mind blown* Very cool!

Chester Angel
Chester Angel

I really have only found a fair amount of true success working with recovering alcoholics/drug addicts who have put themselves in a bad way long enough and really WANT to be better. I think it may end up being my niche.

Martienne Cotter
Martienne Cotter

Absolutely! In fact, the people who come to me are the ones who don't actually need it, because they're already making good choices. It's very difficult to reach the ones who need it. They have to be gravely ill before they'll consider other options. Until then, they just want a pill so they can carry on the way they have.

Chester Angel
Chester Angel

I am a nutritionist as well. Funny. Also am vegan eating an entirely plant based diet. I realize that my choices are extreme but they work for me personally. I see your point for sure. Getting people on the right path (not necessarily my path) is extremely tricky. I'm sure you experience the same combativeness as I do in people when you counsel them about what they have been doing all along being incorrect. If I have learned one thing through my nutrition experience is people HATE being told they are wrong and what to do...tough one for sure.

Martienne Cotter
Martienne Cotter

I'm still laughing. :D Honestly, I'm a nutritional consultant, so of course I'd love to see more people eating healthy and avoiding soda. But, I'd rather see them do it in the form of incentives for healthy eating rather banning certain foods....which it sounds like is one of his plans (now that I actually read the article).

Chester Angel
Chester Angel

Couldn't pass this photo up for a profile pic. Not knocking what you're saying. Just joining the party I guess....

Martienne Cotter
Martienne Cotter

Aw, man. I vowed "no sarcasm on FB" but a comment such as this coming out of....well.....that profile picture. Dude, you're really making it hard! lol

Max Schulze
Max Schulze

Yes, you should be able to BUY whatever your heart desire. However, when you choose to spend significant amounts of money on hair/nails/clothes, then you should not be subsidized by the gov't for things that you actually need. Don't even try to tell me it doesn't happen, I hear conversations almost daily from ppl around me that confirm exactly what I'm saying....and it makes me sick

Jeanne Rhodes
Jeanne Rhodes

I worked at a grocery store for 13 years and saw people buy birthday party food including a $35 sheet cake and spending $100 plus - just for a kid's party!

Bud Becker
Bud Becker

hell no they dont need soda or candy or none that dumb shit, those are luxuries.

Chester Angel
Chester Angel

They're not telling you what to buy. Buy whatever you want with dollar bills. If someone is doing you a favor, at least be gracious about it.

Martienne Cotter
Martienne Cotter

I actually just got around to reading this article, and even though I don't like the government deciding what food people should buy, I do think he is onto something. He's talking about farmers markets taking EBT now, and providing incentives for healthy choices. *That* is awesome!

AJ Wilkes
AJ Wilkes

The poor sure are an easy target. Sure why not. Add any other sort of "too good for 'em" items on the list, like salt or granola.

rachaduncan
rachaduncan

Does corporate welfare get checked in the same manner? I mean if you are going to drug test the poor and take away their soda you better be doing it for the elite as well. I mean the elite's coke habit is more expensive and dangerous than the poors in any case. 

Christine Gonzalez
Christine Gonzalez

Just screen who is getting food stamps. I know people who work for cash and claim no job and gets them. Some people feel entitled to have food stamps and welfare. It wasn't set up for that.

Deanna Marie
Deanna Marie

Should also be drug tested for food stamps and welfare!

Deanna Marie
Deanna Marie

I'll support this! If your income is that low & needing help to survive, you don't need to be buying crap!

Lee Collier
Lee Collier

Also, nutritionists and scientists can easily decide and tell us what's junk.

Lee Collier
Lee Collier

Total diversion of the topic: where can I find bread laden with trans fats? If it's out there, I'd like to be able to tell people about it. Because that shit will destroy your heart.

Chester Angel
Chester Angel

My mother was a single mom and for short time had my brother and I fed through food stamps. As soon as she could, she stopped receiving them. She always did her best to feed us health based foods and soda was never part of that. Very commendable post Courtney. I like that you have made plans to put your own health first too. Good luck to you...

Chester Angel
Chester Angel

Wow...Soda really gets the people talking. I haven't had one in a long time. Maybe I should. I actually do have an opinion on this but does it matter?? No. I'm thirsty.

Maggie Madonia
Maggie Madonia

Dude you got bigger fish to fry... how about stopping the murder rate. Worry about real stuff. When the murders drop we will be back to the city.

Bambi Zj Baker
Bambi Zj Baker

Well you could do that but in exchange I want to know his spending and how he is spending the public money he receives

Casey McBroom
Casey McBroom

Kelly, we had all those things before the gov't got involved. Private companies are the ones who are contracted by the gov't (the gov't produces nothing), and those are the companies private individuals will have to partner with in a completely free society. Everything existed without gov't before, and it will exist without them, again. Also, here view is socialist in nature. Just look up the definition of socialism.. Wait, I'll do it. Socialism; 1 : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods 2 a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state 3 : a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done See socialism defined for English-language learners » See socialism defined for kids » We all on the same page now?

Eileen Reel Jennemann
Eileen Reel Jennemann

i think he needs to spend more time worrying about the gun violence and heroin epidemic that is killing our young adults everyday

dragonknightcory
dragonknightcory

theres the murder rate and the unemployment rate get those to 0 then you can take the soda away from the food stamps only if those 2 stay at 0 for years lol

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