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About 15% of SNAP participants are Latino families that need a little extra help at mealtime. Some lawmakers believe limiting what SNAP participants can buy with their benefits, like outlawing cookies, ice cream, and greasy chips, will encourage these families to choose healthier food items.
Maine Governor Paul LePage has announced his intention to introduce legislation in 2015 that would ban the purchase of junk food with SNAP benefits. Augusta Senator Roger Katz has already filed legislation that’s similar to a bill that was defeated two years ago. Both men site obesity and diet-related disease as a main reason for the proposed ban.
The federal government already prohibits the purchase of alcohol, tobacco and other nonfood products with SNAP benefits, but has rejected bans on junk food purchases proposed in other states.
Advocates for low-income families that participate in SNAP say they applaud the reasoning behind the ban, but believe there are better ways to encourage families to buy healthier foods, such as doubling benefits used to purchase fresh produce like some states have done.