Maine asks feds to allow ban on food stamps for candy, soda

FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016, file photo, soft drink and soda bottles are displayed in a refrigerator at El Ahorro market in San Francisco. After years of stamping out soda tax proposals with well-financed campaigns, Big Soda is suddenly finding itself up against bigger adversaries. In early November 2016, voters and lawmakers in five jurisdictions, including San Francisco and Chicago’s Cook County, approved special taxes on sugary drinks, with advocates chalking up the streak of victories to a shift in public attitudes. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
File photo –Jeff Chiu / AP

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine has once again asked the federal government to ban the purchase of sugary drinks and candy with food stamps.

Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew says the nutritional value of candy and soda doesn’t require further debate and that Maine faces rising obesity.

A recent U.S. Department of Agriculture study found soft drinks accounted for 5 percent of food stamp purchases.

The study examined the $70 billion food stamp program by looking at a leading grocery retailer’s 2011 data. Households not on food stamps spent about 4 percent of expenditures on soft drinks.

Mayhew says $700 million is spent on obesity-related medical expenditures in Maine.

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The department also asked to shift $4 million in federal funding for nutrition education to food banks, schools and community organizations.

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