New York State Senator Wants To Limit Food Stamp Benefits

A New York politician doesn't want food stamps spent on "luxury" foods like lobster and steak

A New York state senator is hoping to prevent people who use food stamps (now known as SNAP benefits) from buying "luxury" food like steak and lobster. Republican State Senator Patty Ritchie proposed the controversial bill last week, Mashable reports.

Ritchie's bill also wants to forbid the use of food stamps from buying non-nutritional foods, such as cake. "The goal of this legislation is to improve dietary quality and reduce obesity. . . . This measure will also restrict the abuse of the program," the bill states. Instead, SNAP should be used on "essentials," she adds.

Which foods are defined as luxury items is up to the Office of Temporary Disability Assistance to decide, but it's unlikely that it will get that far. The state senate has a democratic majority, and democrats have historically opposed restrictions on the use of SNAP benefits. The only current restriction enforced in the state is one that prohibits SNAP debit cards from being used at establishments where gambling is legal.

The Obama administration, however, is pushing for easier access to healthy options at places that accept SNAP. Last week, the Department of Agriculture proposed a rule that would require stores to carry at least seven varieties of staples (think meat, dairy and bread) and a variety of produce in order to continue accepting SNAP benefits.