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Bill seeks to ban Delawareans on food stamps from buying junk food

Delaware Public Media

State lawmakers are seeking to ban recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, from using food stamps to buy junk food. About 150,000 Delawareans participate in the SNAP program.

Bill sponsor State Rep. Kevin Hensley said he wants food stamp benefits to be used only on healthy food. Under the proposal, the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services would create a list of what food would be allowed.

Hensley said SNAP recipients could still use their own money to purchase food not covered by the food stamp program.

“In most cases, the average family is getting about 255 dollars a month, however, they’re spending well over 350 dollars a month in a monthly grocery bill," he said. "So, the idea being they could use their discretionary income, the difference if you will, to purchase frankly whatever they wanted to.”

Studies disagree on the exact added cost of eating healthy, but some do suggest those foods are more expensive. Hensley said he’s looking at ways to make fruits and vegetables more affordable for families in the SNAP program.

“Some other states do this by the way where let’s say you have a dollar’s worth of SNAP benefits," he said. "There’s some states that actually will credit you say $1.50, in other words give you a bump up, if you’re purchasing fruits and vegetables and things of that nature in particularly farmers markets and things of that like that tend to be more expensive.”

Hensley’s bill is currently in the House Health and Human Development Committee. But he said he’s postponed a hearing it while he explores available options to make buying healthy food more affordable.

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