Hot Topic Tuesday – No Soda Ban for NYC
Posted August 23, 2011on:
Have you heard? The U.S.D.A has rejected NYC’s attempt to ban soda purchases with food stamps.
Should people using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) be able to purchase soda with the aid?
This is not a new debate, and my favorite take to date appeared in Newsweek about a year ago, you can find it here. in “Divided We Eat” Lisa Miller explores food and food customs in the neighborhoods near her in New York. She touches on the big question in food and poverty- does being in poverty mean you don’t deserve to choose what you eat?
Look again at SNAP, it’s the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program”. So how do you define nutrition: is it the absence of deficiency? is it preventing chronic disease? is it something else? However you define nutrition, then the foods provided by SNAP should meet those criteria.
For reference, here is the World Health Organization’s 1948 definition of health:
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
Can good nutrition include soda? Would you make an exception for a child’s birthday party? How about when nauseated and all you want is ginger ale and saltines?
Whether or not soda can be ‘part of a healthy lifestyle’, sweeping bans like the soda ban won’t reduce childhood obesity. Banning soda also won’t stop SNAP benefits from being used for purposes other than what was intended. When staring down bills to be paid, a SNAP recipient may sell their card for cash to pay the rent. Or they may sell it to buy soda, or something else.
Basically, it’s complicated. Where would you suggest we start?