Bill introduced in Tennessee would ban buying junk food, sweets with food stamps

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Tennessee lawmaker has introduced legislation seeking to ban the use of food stamps to buy items without nutritional value.

State Rep. Sheila Butt says banned items would be those high in calories, sugar and fat, such as sodas, ice cream, candy, cookies and cake. The measure would also prohibit grocers from selling banned items to people on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

“When you’re receiving taxpayer dollars, it’s not money that you’ve have earned. It’s money that other people have earned and is redistributed to you. Strings come along with that,” the Republican said in a statement announcing her bill.

If the bill becomes law, the state would have to establish a list of which food items would be banned for food stamp recipients, using the recommendations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a guide. This would require a waiver from the federal government, since it oversees the food stamp program.

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Those found in violation of the proposed law would be fined $1,000 for a first offense, and $2,500 and $5,000 for second and third offenses.

More than 1 million Tennesseans received SNAP assistance as of November of 2016.

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