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Lawmaker Seeks Food Stamp Soda Ban

August 29th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

For the second year in a row a freshman legislator, who is also a medical doctor, wants to ban food stamp recipients from buying soda or candy for their kids. But as Mike Vasilinda tells us, both recipients and retailers think the ban is a bad idea.


We met Deanna Williams outside a state food stamp office after she got laid off as a 911 dispatcher.

“When you go into this office…sometimes you just feel this big” says Williams as she gestured with her fingers.

Williams says a proposal to ban the purchase of soft drinks and candy with EBT cards         will only make recipients feel worse.  That idea comes from Rep. Ray Massullo, a       Citrus County physician.


“I see the trend of obese children in our society. And I think its important that we provide them nutritional foods” Massullo told us.

Williams agrees, but she says when parents spend more on healthy vegetables, the health gains are lost to lower quality meats and other fillers.

“The worst cuts of meat. The off-brand foods. The foods that are high in fat.”

Nationally, about six percent of all electronic benefits purchases go for soda or candy.

It was the Florida Retail Federation’s opposition that killed the idea earlier this year. James Miller says it’s not about sales but consistency.

“We just want it to be consistent across the board for all our members in all our states” say Miller.

The legislation is now one of the first bills filed for 2018. Deanna Williams says denying poor kids a soda is too much big brother.

“And I don’t think it’s right for anyone to dictate what they’re allowed to eat. Or drink.”

But some lawmakers say that depends on who’s paying.

Food stamp recipients are already barred from using their benefits to buy beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco. Nonfood purchases such as pet foods and vitamins are also prohibited.

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