New Yorkers on food stamps would be banned from using them to buy soda or other sugar-sweetened drinks under a plan Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. David Paterson said would fight obesity.
They submitted their request on Thursday to the U.S. Department of Agriculture — which sets the food stamp rules — seeking permission to change the publicly-funded program for a two-year trial period.
The city has made efforts to foster healthy eating in impoverished communities through its green carts initiative bringing fresh produce vendors to areas short on supermarkets, and 27 of the city’s 51 green markets now accept food stamps.
But Bloomberg said New York is “losing ground” on obesity and diabetes and that this initiative would give the 1.7 million New Yorkers on food stamps “more money to spend on foods and drinks that provide real nourishment.”
“It’s patronizing to punish poor people for the sin of being poor,” said Joel Berg, of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, noting that he’s seen soda served at Gracie Mansion.