For Once I Agree with LePage

LePage threatens to end state administration of food stamp program

Normally LePage concerns me. He does and says things that really throw me off and make me wonder about his mind. I realize being a governor is pretty stressful but I would think taking such a job requires one to keep their cool. He doesn’t and many times he does things that if I were to see in person would be more than concerning. It would be upsetting.

However, this time it lands upon something near and dear to my heart: the world of human nutrition and food security. And in fact his very argument was a topic of debate in one of my college courses years ago. He isn’t the first in Maine to make this proposal and he isn’t the first to be shot down on a federal level either. Even the ADA will say that all foods in moderation belong in a healthy diet. So all foods stay available with the food stamps (SNAP) program.

It just so happens that on this point, I agree with LePage.

We have gone to ridiculous lengths to control what food and drink is allowed to our children in our public schools – to the point where we can’t bring in sweets for birthdays and limiting bake sales for fund raisers. Gone are the days of selling candy bars for field trips or uniforms. The state of Maine is no exception.

Cupcake ban: Schools crack down on sweets

Put Down the Cupcake: New Ban Hits School Bake Sales

Yet with food stamps you are still able to buy these sweets. Don’t get me wrong. I have been on food stamps and no, I didn’t spend them on candy and soda. However I know that the program was designed to provide a nutritional safety net for those that don’t have food security due to financial woes. No it’s not intended to be your sole food budget, but unlike WIC it doesn’t come packaged with an educational program.

WIC is intended to teach mothers the importance of food groups while pregnant and while raising infants and toddlers while they receive the benefits. The program also tracks the growth and development of the infants and toddlers that are enrolled. I’ve learned this both through my experience in the program and from my community nutrition courses. They collect enormous amounts of data regarding these children to track whether the program is actually helping people learn and whether people are giving birth to healthier babies. WIC has tremendous support because of this data. We have better outcomes across the nation with the infants that are born now.

However, we have gone from underweight and malnourished to overweight and malnourished as a country. And while I agree that all foods in moderation can be included in a healthy diet, I don’t think food stamps should include anything that our nutritional education materials aren’t preaching. I strongly believe that our food stamp program needs to follow a similar model that the WIC program has.

Yes, recipients need the food but the benefits should also include education on healthy diets and meal planning. Then those benefits should only allow the healthy food the education materials are preaching. That’s what the WIC program does. These are the food groups. This is how much you need from each food group. This is why it’s important. Here are the vouchers to get these types of foods from each of the food groups.

It works for WIC and it works well. Why can’t food stamps work in a similar way?

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