Maine Governor Wants to Take Candy from Poor Kids - Literally
Here we go again. Maine Gov. Paul LePage is the latest to push for harsher limits on what foods people can buy with food stamps. Because it's not enough that people have tiny food budgets and periodic humiliation in the grocery checkout line, we need laws that stigmatize people's eating habits, too.
"Multiple Red Bulls in one purchase, Rock Star energy drinks, 1-pound bag of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and 3 gallons of Hershey's Ice Cream in one purchase," Bethany Hamm, an official with the state Department of Health and Human Services, said during a hearing on Thursday, MPBN News reported.
"We have all seen these types of purchases occur -- and it's unacceptable," Hamm said.
Healthy? No. But the state does not know those people's lives, so maybe it should not judge them. Maybe the energy drinks were for someone working an overnight shift. Maybe the peanut butter cups and ice cream were so a kid could have a modest birthday party, and maybe the family had saved up to afford that much. We. Do. Not. Know. Consider also that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program already doesn't cover hot foods, so if you're not going to have access to a kitchen, junk food is often what's available to buy that can be eaten on the spot.
State-level pushes to restrict food stamp purchases are all for show, by the way:
An obstacle to imposing SNAP dietary restrictions is that federal law doesn't give states the ability to change what food stamps can buy. That's why the Maine legislation, sponsored by state Sen. Roger Katz (R), would seek a waiver from federal rules from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers SNAP.
The USDA has turned down several such requests from other states in recent years, so what we're looking at in Maine is yet another attempt to trash poor people in the news for its own sake, not to make actual changes.