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Banning sugary drinks from food stamp purchases

Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Paterson are asking the Department of Agriculture, which runs the food stamp program, to add sugary drinks to the list of prohibited goods.  The idea is forcing people on food stamps to make healthier choices when buying groceries.   What do you think about this proposal?  Should government be getting involved in trying to control what people eat?   Tell us what you think by clicking on the comment link.   Your submission may be shown here or on Eyewitness News tonight!  Click here to read the full story.




The article is incorrect, only CERTAIN SUGAR DRINKS WILL be allowed, including CHOCOLATE MILKSHAKES, GRAPE JUICE, ETC, however a GREEN TEA WITH A HALF OF TEASPOON OF HONEY would be BANNED despite 5-10X LESS CALORIES.

In addition junk food is hard to define, is a taco junk food? Granola? Dark Chocolate?

Richard Beck

I think they should stop buying all soda also diet soda only. They are not healthy for you and it would reduce the weight problem many people suffer from. Allow juices that are healthy for you. It is a fact people who drink sugar free soda have bigger weight problems then people who just drink soda.

RP McMurphy

Herein lies the problem with government handouts. Since it is unearned wealth confiscated from your neighbors under threat of force, the government has a right to control how it's spent. The best solution is jobs. Vote out the Democrats who have created a "plantation" system while taxing and regulating jobs away from urban areas. The entitled mentality of many of the above comments is shocking!!

gail colban

i think this is so wrong. If they want they should ban it from all and if we cant buy these things with food stamps,we will buy it with the cash...this wont work!!!


I agree with the point the Mayor and Governor are trying to make. However, I do not agree with how they are going about it. The ban on sugary drinks will be discriminatory, because it only affects the nation's poor. I do recognize that the Mayor did try to put a tax on sugary drinks for all New Yorkers, so I feel confident in saying I do not think the Mayor is discriminating. He is only trying to regulate what he has the power to regulate. With all of that said I believe there should be more information put out there by the Mayor and Governor about what is good to drink. They should start a campaign on teaching people better alternatives. I feel like I am pretty educated and I still get confused. One report negates the other. Some reports say sugar soda is better than diet soda and vice versa. Of course water is the best option, but let's be realistic no one is going to drink water all day everyday.

All in all a better way, in my opinion, is to find ways to reduce the cost of the more nutritious foods and drinks. Therefore, all Americans can afford to live healthy.

don don

The government is elected by we the people (poor, middle class, and rich) to protect our constitutional rights, although they have the right to make laws they do not have the right to make laws that are in violation of our human rights. The government should be ashamed of using thier political powers to single out the poorer class of individuals by interfering with our rights to eat whatever we choose, if they believe that sodas (sugary drinks) is hazardous to our health they should stop making them for all, rather than single out a certain class whom are powerless over the control of what type of products can be purchased with thier foodstamps. These politicians seem only to abide under the constitution when it is convenient for them, because most of the decisions that are made including this one is in clear violation of our constitutional rights/law.


I grew up in the "hood." I would constantly see mothers putting soda and kool aid in their children's bottles. In these communities, obesity is rampant and so is tooth decay. These people are almost completely reliant on the government to take care of them. I am in favor of the government helping its citizens, but the government should not give people unrestricted access to funds to use recklessly. This is not about rights, it is about stopping a serious public health problem. This measure would literally save lives. It is so sad that people are fighting this. There are 2 types of people fighting this proposal: people on welfare who lack forsight and think that it's the government's responsibility to give them money to use foolishly, and ultra liberals who just don't want anyone telling them anything. The highest rates of diabetes and hypertension and preventable deaths are in low income communities! Apparently they don't know what is best for them, so restrictions need to be imposed. I have the right to eat all the junk I want because I'm not on public assistance, but once I take one dime from the government for food stamps, then I have a responsibility to use the money responsibly.


i agree with patterson and bloomberg, i went to a 7-11 and i saw a woman BUYING for her kids .. soda . snack foods pretty soon it will be mcds ..biggie macs and soda etc etc .. also where I live the school buses here have information on then encouraging kids for soda and greasey snack and kick back the moneys for school .programs IUGHHHHHH there. in the 1970s . u wouldnt use food stamps for this manner.. i cant even get food stamps in colorado checking and using background checks just for that geez..

R. Young

The reason the Food Stamp Program was created was so that people could buy what they wanted. Now I remember when my mother was no longer able to work and had to go to a basement in a housing project to stand in a long line for what the government had to give out (can meat, powdered eggs, corn meal, grits, oatmeal, cheese). Do you have any idea of what it's like to eat oatmeal with bugs in it for the last week of the month because that was all you had to eat until it was time for you to stand in that line again. Now, my mother did every kind of job, from picking cotton to driving a school bus. It felt good to finally get the food that you wanted instead of what people think you should get.

Virginia Wilber

We let rich people and corporations do whatever they want with taxpayer money. CEOs of major corporations, that the federal government bailed out still have private jets and still received bonuses. So why are picking on people on food stamps? Maybe if we increased the amount of money given to people, they would make healthier choices and could afford to shop at Whole Foods.


It's not about sugar filled drinks. Food stamps should be for food essentials, good healthy food. Junk foods, snacks, sodas, etc. should be with the beer and cigarettes -- in other words, paid for by the person not the tax payers. I don't think food stamps include many items for babies -- like Pedialyte. So excluding edible items that have no nutritional value (aka junk, soda, processed foods, etc) seems reasonable. No one is saying someone on food stamps is prohibited from eating those items, but tax payers don't need to pay for them.

John Q Public

to all of you who are complaining about welfare recipients buying sugary drinks, Why are you so concerned with what these people eat or drink. At least Bloomberg has a half assed reason. He thinks that this is the beginning of helping to cut out obesity. And what makes you think that none of these people ever contributed to the system. And, if they eat lobster, they are sacrifices another days meal for it. Obviously they know that they can't eat lobster every week. why would someone say "I rather see people make a cake then buy a cake with MY hard earned MONEY, make a sandwich then buy on with MY Hard earned money what is right here ????". I guess you have made cakes and sandwiches. The ingredients makes it cost more to make than buy. Grow up and mind your business.


Who does the government think they are any way? While I understand food stamps not paying for tobacco and alcohol, I have to draw the line at them telling us what we can eat and drink.

Us against them? Rich people =them
Poor people = us

They get paid the big bucks from our minimum wage jobs and still have the right to tell us what we can eat and drink because we are on food stamps?

Don't try to tell me this is about obesity, for heavens sake, my 2 children and myself are barely average weight!

This BS coming from a bunch of rich politicians is just another "BIG BROTHER" step to separate the "HAVES" from the "HAVE NOTS" and if we don't stop them there will be have nots breaking into their homes to steal sodas and sweets.

Our government is out of control with their "rules" for the poor.

And they wonder why so many people in our own country are turning against them??? PLEASE!


I think this issue is not an easy one to address, however, when you think about it, food stamps are given to help families "feed" themselves. Since all sugary drinks have a nutritional value that approaches ZERO, they should definitely be eliminated from the program, as should any so-called food item that requires tax!

David  Michelson

Personally, I am for individual freedom. Therefore I do not feel government should dictate what anyone can eat or drink. Especially picking on the poor. This smacks of the attempt to sterilized those on welfare at an earlier time. EDUCATE, yes, FORCE, not in America. If we allow this for those on food stamps, how long before the govt tries to force us all?


I work for a major food chain in New Jersey,and the things people buy on food stamps should not be allowed,Wedding cakes Party platters sub sandwiches,soda,chips fruit snacks that are loaded with sugar Juice not the good juice the cheap on with all of the sugar in it,also the noodles that you boil that are full of salt,and and are cheap have to work hard for my money and I see what they buy LOBSTER,I can't afford lobster for my family but I guess when you are on food stamps you can . what is right here I can't get food stamps we can't have lobster or crab legs so we make do with what we can I rather see people make a cake then buy a cake with MY hard earned MONEY, make a sandwich then buy on with MY Hard earned money what is right here ????


This country needs to stop giving the taxpayers money away to those who never contributed a single penny into it.

Stop the dictatorship! This country is becoming communist!

Eyewitness News Viewer

Although not on foodstamps, I'm curious what, exactly, IS considered a non-sugared drink.Other than water, these are the items in my refrigerator for my grandchildren. (Note the sugar contents for juices.)
Farmland Dairy 2% milk has 12g sugar per 8oz, 130 cals.,sodium 130mg.
Welch's concord grape juice (light) has 12g sugar per 8 oz,50 cals.,sodium 80mg.,28%juice
Motts for tots 40%less sugar apple juice has 15g sugar per 8oz, 60cals.,sodium10mg.54%juice

Tina Lucas

what? there gonna banned bags of sugar? Stop trippin people, it's not goin to stop nothin. Your not my parents. Mr.Mayor and Govenor, chill ! I'm tired of you people tellin me what to do. Leave people alone. Dam ! I can see beer, and ciggerettes, just STOP!

Tina Lucas

stop the bull ! So if I buy 5- 5- lbs of sugar for kool-aid or what ever I'm being punished? Sugar is in so much. I think , there going to far with this. PERIOD !

Richard Stebbins II

As a person who is on public assistance at the moment I feel this is ridiculous. It seems these two are trying to pass the "soda tax" on low income families, if these families want to drink soda or kool-aid let them. I don't get many of those items because I don't desire them and I also have knowledge of general health. Many of these families have little knowledge of general health or seem concerned about it. Maybe they need to look into that instead of banning them. America is about freedom and choice. Unfortunatly we did not choose Paterson as govenor and Bloomberg's campaign council covered the polls to ensure he was elected for a third term. Both have proven they are not good for the state of New York, this is just another agenda that shows their misuse of politics and their egos.


I think that passing this would be the best thing NYC can do; I say this because it's unfair to hard working Americans who make a descent to excellent living who get taxed U.S. dollars to support those low income fAMilies who most abuse the system. I can understand those who are low-income families, but it's no excuse to buy sugary non-essential products such as cookies, candy, soda, being well dressed (If they have NO money so-called,then how do they have jordans on and nice clothes???) I barely can afford new clothes and shoes working for good money .Nobody saying they can't buy food, but be fair to all others who are getting taxed hard earned dollars.low income families should be buying necessary groceries such as:milk,eggs,bread,etc, not energy drinks as mentioned, and JUNK food. Every day the "system" is highly abused, there are not many jobs, but there ARE some job opportunities out there if you look,some people just live off the card without paying taxes. Why can we all just live the honest way.. this is another reason we are in such a recession.


In the 70's when I worked as a cashier in a grocery store, food stamp customers could not purchase soda or drinks - only 100% juice or water. We had to void these items if they were rung up before we knew they had food stamps. If they still wanted these items, they had to pay for them with cash. What's changed? Food stamps are to provide nutritious food for your family.


Someone commented that the government should mind their own business and stay out of people's food business. Fine, but if that's the case, those people should not take the government's money. We can't afford to give people the money of hardworking taxpayers to do be irresponsible, and then when they get sick, they run to the government for free healthcare. Whoever thinks the government should mind their own business should not be receiving ANY money from the government. You want freedom? Earn it yourself and stop depending on the government to take care of you. By the way, the highest rates of obesity and illness are in low income communities. This law would save lives!


what people fail to see is food stamps is a supplement to low income families plenty of working families receive food stamps next they will want to take cereals and regular sugar juices have sugar of substitute sugar which who knows if good for us or not every thing we buy some how in the food has sugar. these politicians should be giving a budget and go shopping so they can see people buy what is on sale not what is necessarily what is good for you because you want to stretch your money unfortunately what is good for you is not affordable


I am getting EXTREMELY tired of Patterson and Bloomberg. They have ill-directed priorities. I do agree that stamp users should focus that income on healthier choices, but there are ALREADY enough restrictions. The FIRST thing they (the governor and the mayor) need to do is force these businesses, I.e. Stores and supermarkets in poor neighborhoods, to stock their shelves with more yogurt, juices and healthier foods. This costs money, so they should get large tax breaks for increasing their inventory with healthier foods. Once the poor who use stamps see there are healthier foods available, they will change ON THEIR OWN!!!!!!!


yes they should be banned from being able to by soft drinks. Food stamps are for food, and unfortunetly people cant by toilet paper with it but they can buy shrimp, lobster, steak. How about we make the food stamps for the things we need in everyday life. Its sad because I am unemployed, married with 2 children and they say we make to much money to qualify for them. Its funny how the system works. My husband would have to quit his job in order for us to qualify for them. They should be for the people who need a little boost and are trying to make a better life for themselves, instead they give it to the people who are milking the system.


Food stamps should only be used for basics period! You do not need soda to survive!


That's like saying if you receive unemployment benefits, what you will buy will be monitored as well. I think it's ridiculous and a weak attempt to try and solve a universal problem.


i am a mother of 2 and i receive food stamps i dont drink soda nor do my children everyone that receives public assistances does not eat un healthy my children are very healthy and at their normal weight because i monitor what my children eat. i think its wrong for the government to say what people can and cannot eat, if they want soda they can buy it with cash soda is not expensive so its very cheap to buy. what we need to do is eduacate people on portion control and eating things in moderation. soon the government will try to control the air we breath.

Claudette Richards

As a person currently receiving Food Stamps to feed my children, I weigh the pros and cons of everything I buy...right down to the price. Are you now saying that I cannot have Soda at my 12yr old's birthday party to "spike" the fruit punch. Mayor Bloomberg...go fix the MTA and get out of my pantry!


I think that they need to educate before restricting. Not allowing alcohol and cigarettes is one thing (as there is absolutely nothing good from either product) but now disallowing the purchase of sugary soft drinks is crossing the line for the government (and can do more than hurt those on food stamps, think of the industry and how many are employed by the companies who make these products, do we really need to add to the current unemployment market when the companies are no longer selling these LEGAL products). Other countries eat rich fattening foods but are not as obese as Americans. The problem with our country is that we do not know how to eat/drink in moderation. So, before the government starts adding more to the do not purchase list, maybe they should try to educate the families that are receiving government subsidies on how they can purchase healthy, nutritional food/drink items. Education is the best way to teach, withholding just makes them want it more.


ABSOLUTELY YES!!!! If people want to make themselves obese and sick on unhealthy foods, then they need to do it with their own hard earned money - not the money of taxpayers. What is so sad is that the largest percecentage of obese people are in low income communities. With obesity comes health problems. These same welfare recipients then use government money for the health problems caused by obesity - again, paid for by taxpayers. This has to stop! If the poor want to eat poorly, I could care less - but get a part time job and pay for it yourself! And then when you get sick, buy your own healthcare and pay for it yourself. By the way, I am somewhat overweight myself, but I am not on government assistance. And if the government decided to tax junk food, bring it on! I need an incentive to stop eating junk - so this goes for me too.


Food Stamps are for just that, Food. Anything edible was always covered under them. It is up to parents not a Governor and Mayor to tell people what to put on their tables. Aren't they ashamed of themselves? Don't they have more important issues like our safety here in NYC that they can put their 2 cents into?


All a part of the Obama Plan to control our lives where to smoke what to eat etc .


Gov't should focus on banning sugary drinks all over the country and try and fight obesity, not just picking on the lower classes

Lourdes Diaz

I dont think that is right cause in the "poor" neighborhoods or "ghetto" there arent many healthy choice's to chose from... Food stamp users only buy what available to them...

So i guess since everything we drink that has sugar is going to be banned??
the gov is just looking for another way to control us..


While I am totally against government infringing upon our rights as free citizens, I do believe that if you are accepting money from the government you need to abide by the rules they set. So if that means you can't buy sugary drinks, you can't buy sugary drinks! Plain and simple! It is no different than, for example, borrowing money to pay bills/rent and you use it to go on vacation or a shopping spree.

joe s

Did you know that in New york you cannot buy a roasted chicken in a supermarket or any hot food for that matter, because "PREPARED HOT FOOD"
is disallowed with foodstamps.
For what its worth.

joe s

So whats next, disallowing the use of
foodstamps for all foodstuff that is high in calories and fat content.

A. D.

Absolutely if people are on food stamps they should not be buying junk food. Food stamps should be limited to meats, dairy, grains, and vegetables, fruit, NOT soda or fruit flavored drinks, candy, cookies, etc. Local Farmers can benefit from the purchase of their fruits & vegetables supplied to supermarkets. The more restrictions and monitoring the city puts on welfare and food stamp recipients can help the city and if done right in the long run help everyone from lower income familes to upper income families; because healthier people can work and get themselves off food stamps and welfare.

ABC Viewer

I was watching The View this am, & Woopi Goldberg said that while she likes Mayor Bloomberg, she disagrees with his plan because it implies that most or all poor people are obese. I don't think that's the case. I think what NY is saying is, if you receive food stamps, which basically are taxpayer dollars, we will not hand you this benefit to contribute to you IF you already have a weight problem. Sugary drinks far surpass candy & other processed foods with regards to obeseity. They obviously can't regulate people who use their own money, other than taxing, although I'm not sure if the state tax on sugary drinks was passed or not, but this is basically a supplement to that. The state can't legislate what food people put into their bodies, nor should they, but they can say "I'm not paying for you to become a future stroke or heart attack victim, & thus, a further drain on the medical system". I happen to agree with it. I remember hearing stories years ago about people with food stamps buying filet mignon, shrimp, top brand groceries, etc., & standing in line with high end clothes, instead of stretching their food stamps more sensibly. This isn't a charity, & there must be some sort of regulation on it because apparently & unfortunately people can't regulate themselves.

kamekia brown

i think this idea is ridiculous what's next requiring people who are getting food stamps to show id to buy soda. the city should mind their business and stay out groceries.

Sheilah Goodman

As a community health educator, I would like
the Mayor and the Governor to inform and educate everyone, not just food stamp recipients about the reason we all should reduce our sugar intake. Obesity, diabetes,and all the associated health issues.
This is a personal and family choice. And, food stamps should be used to help provide healthy food. Soda and sugary drinks for children should be prohibited or restricted.


Some people DO need "big brother" and certainly BETTER PARENTING classes and education to that end! I was a NYC school teacher and the garbage that parents sent in for the kids lunch was APPAULING!!!!!!!!!! I think Mayor Bloomberg should pay for EVRYONE to join WEIGHT WATCHERS and learn peoper eating and nutrition so that our kids will not be so heavy and sick!

Victoria Simon

I don't think that the gov't should single out low income families as their first target in the fight against obesity. While I like Bloomberg, people receiving only 200 dollars a month are not the people who purchase most of the sugary goods and he is not sending a great message by singling out the poor. You want a strong message?? Stop selling sugary snacks to everyone.

Concerned NY'er

I don't agree


I think they should somehow limit how much they buy. I have witnessed a lady and her son buying $53 worth of energy drinks with food stamps. To me, that is unfair and ridiculous. I could be buying all of groceries with that money. So I think certain things should be limited, because some people use the food stamps for large quantities of non-essential items.

lori navalny

Can people no longer take responsiblity for their own actions? Have we really gotten to the point where we need "Big Brother"?

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