Texas state bill would ban food stamp use on junk food, sugary drinks

By Health CareFOXBusiness

The proposed bill would ban Texas residents from using food stamps on junk food and sugary drinks. (iStock)

Some Texas residents may be forced to change their grocery lists if lawmakers pass a bill that would ban people from using food stamps to purchase junk food, including energy drinks.

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Republican State Rep. Briscoe Cain said he filed the bill, titled HB 4364, in March as an effort to help combat diabetes and other health complications associated with consuming sugary drinks and snacks.

“HB 4364 seeks to curb the spread of diabetes and other health complications among Texans in at-risk populations by eliminating sugary drinks and snacks from the state’s nutrition assistance program,” Cain told KHOU.

The bill would prohibit recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) from buying energy drinks with more than 65 milligrams of caffeine per 8 fluid ounces and other sweetened and carbonated beverages.

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Candy, potato and corn chips and cookies were also among the banned items listed in the bill.

The bill does have several exceptions.

Food stamps can still be used to purchase fruit and vegetable juices without added sugar and carbonation, and coffee. Milk-substitute drinks, such as soy and almond milk, drinks with protein and infant formula are also excluded in the ban.

More than 3 million low-income Americans in Texas participate in SNAP on a monthly basis, according to USDA data.

About 3 million people in Texas have diabetes, with about 187,000 people diagnosed with the disease every year, The American Diabetes Association reported. Those with diabetes have about 2.3 times higher medical expenses than those without it.

If passed, the bill will go in effect in September.