DHHS seeks waiver to ban soda and candy food stamp purchases

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) – Maine’s commissioner of Health and Human Services is calling on the federal government for a waiver, allowing the state to prevent food stamps from being used to purchase soda and candy.

Commissioner Mary Mayhew says the new policy would improve the health of low income Mainers while strengthening the integrity of the food stamp program. She says the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, is meant for the essentials, not sugar filled soda and candy.

“It seems only logical that in a self proclaimed nutrition assistance program that sugary food and beverages would be off the menu”, said Mayhew.

Advocates for families struggling with hunger say banning those items is a bad idea. They say this is just another attempt to discourage the needy from getting benefits.

“The SNAP benefits are dismal at best, I think they’re $4.00 a day for all 3 meals, so there are a limited amount of benefits and families are doing all they can to buy the foods that they need, that are healthy”, said Michelle Lamm, Director of the Maine Hunger Initiative.

Several other states have requested similar waivers to allow the ban. They all have been denied.