Delaware Lawmakers Consider Changing Food Stamps - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delaware Lawmakers Consider Changing Food Stamps

Posted: Feb 08, 2018 4:55 PM Updated:

SUSSEX COUNTY, Del.- A group of local lawmakers are trying to make food stamp purchases healthier.

House Bill 186 would require Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) purchases be foods deemed healthy by the state. According to the bill's synopsis, if passed, the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) would draft a list of approved foods that have a proven beneficial nutritional value. DHSS currently has an authorized food list for WIC, a different food assistance program that helps pregnant women, new mothers and young children. 

Representative Ruth Briggs King is one of the bill's co-sponsors. She says it would make food stamp users eat better, and also save taxpayers money.

"You'll find that convenience foods, snack foods and everything are really not healthy," she tells WBOC. "They're more costly and you can do better with just a little more work."

For an example, Briggs King brought in two different purchases: a bag of chips and donuts that cost $5.50, and potatoes, pork chops, carrots and bananas that only cost $5. Briggs King says the changes would require people to shop on sale and cook more.

"Instead of maybe buying a fast food sandwich [...] go ahead and buy the ingredients to make a sandwich," she explains. "Buy a loaf of bread and that bread will last you a little bit longer."

Pastor Steve Uhthoff runs a free lunch program at his Georgetown Wesleyan Church and says many people on food stamps don't have the means to cook.

"If you live in a classic motel, you might have a refrigerator about that big," he says, making gestures resembling a mini fridge. "And a microwave. That's all you got to cook with. So if you give somebody a chicken, how are they going to cook it? They can't keep it very long."

Uhthoff says he wishes everyone ate healthy, but fears restricting food stamps could force some children with irresponsible or drug-addicted parents to go hungry.

"Even when they buy potato chips, it's something for the kids to eat," he says. "It's not what I'd like to feed them but yeah it's something."

Rep. Briggs King acknowledges that many on food stamps may not have adequate cooking supplies and may need help getting them.

"If we know that's the barrier then let's find what we can do to work around it for these healthy choices," she says.

House Bill 186 is waiting to go before committee and be discussed before any further action can be taken. 

 

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