In what looks like a disturbing trend among Republican lawmakers, Wisconsin has recently taken steps to ban poor people who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits from purchasing certain foods.
Last week, GOP officials introduced Assembly Bill 177 which will effectively prohibit those who use SNAP benefits from buying items on a long list of foods including ketchup, potatoes, and shellfish.
As outlandish as these seemingly growing in popularity initiatives are, Republicans maintain the idea behind them is not to punish people for being poor, but to help people eat healthier.
“We as a country are spending a fortune on health care costs for largely preventable diseases, and a lot of that relates to our habits as people — we’re consuming the wrong foods,” says Wisconsin GOP state Rep. Scott Allen.
Unfortunately for Republicans, the “healthy” argument doesn’t exactly hold much water.
According to nutritionist Joy Bauer, a frequent contributor on “The Today Show,” some of the fish and shellfish that could be banned are essential parts of a balanced and healthy diet:
Some fish and shellfish are high in vitamins and minerals like selenium, vitamin B12, niacin, iron, and zinc. The selenium in seafood is an antioxidant that can help manage arthritis and maintain healthy skin, while vitamin B12 may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and slow memory decline. Niacin is a B vitamin that may aid in cataract prevention. Iron-rich clams, oysters, and shrimp can help maintain healthy hair. The zinc in oysters and crab can also contribute to healthy hair and beautiful skin, while reducing the risk of macular degeneration.
Bauer goes on to reveal that some foods that would be allowed by the law, such as canned fish, are high in sodium and can be bad for people, so Republicans may need to fine-tune their argument.
Maybe this is something to consider for next election season…
Take a look at some of the other foods banned from those using SNAP benefits by Assembly Bill 177:
French Fries/Hash Browns
Almond, Rice, Goat, Soy Milk
Anything in bulk