CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Limits could be put on how food stamps are spent in West Virginia with a bill that’s pending at the State Capitol.

Sen. Ron Stollings (D-Boone, 7) said the proposal would allow West Virginia to apply for a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to prevent food stamps, now called SNAP benefits for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, from being used for purchases of soda pop and other sugary drinks.

“We’re taking a bite of the apple here by not being able to buy pop, Mello Yello, things like that,” said Stollings.  “This could have a behavior changing and, I think, a positive health outcome.”

Stollings, who is a doctor, said such a step would make sense in West Virginia for health and financial reasons.

“We have an oral health problem and we have an obesity problem,” he said.  “Basically, we’re paying for this twice.  Federal tax dollars pay for pop (through SNAP) and that causes us to be overweight and have poor dentition and then Medicaid costs then follow obesity.”

Up to now, the USDA has approved no such waivers for SNAP in other states, but Stollings said he thinks West Virginia could serve as a good pilot project location, especially with an effort that is narrowly focused on limiting sugary drink purchases.

Stollings is the chairman of the Senate Health and Human Resources which has not yet addressed SB 262.

The 2014 Regular Legislative Session continues through Saturday, March 8.

bubble graphic


bubble graphic


  • Robert

    Nanny-state craziness.......Why not just ban all soda pop PERIOD.....if you are SOOOOOO concerned ????

  • Rat

    I have worked over 17 years and decided to stay at home and raise my baby. One income is not enough, so yes we get some assistance. I used to be to proud, but realized staying at home should be an option by every mom. I also realized my past tax dollars and my husbands past and current tax dollars are finally helping us out. The way I see it it's my money and I can buy what I want with it. When I start to work again my money will go to helping others until than I will buy soda with my food stamps and think of all the comments posted. THANK YOU.

  • Brian

    Banning unhealthy foods for purchase with SNAP benefits is simple political lip-service with no real change for those using such benefits. The situation will remain where $100 worth of SNAP benefits will be sold to a working citizen willing to pay $50 cash. This is a win for the working class. The worker will recover $100 worth of their tax money for legit groceries and the SNAP recipient will have $50 to spend on whatever. At least $50 is going to be used for the good of a person's healthier diet.

  • Brad

    SNAP recipients will find no change in realized benefit. $100 of SNAP benefits sold for $50 cash for a working citizen will still be a good deal. The working citizen will recover some of their tax money paid for such benefits and the SNAP recipient will still get $50 cash for buying anything they want.

  • zero tolerance

    And here I was hoping for a good HopsHip mantra about the benefits of soda pop and how this is a Big Business scheme being proposed by those evil evil disappointed.

  • rick

    Soda pop should not have been on the list. The system should be for what it was intended to help provide nutirition for those in need.

  • Lloyd

    I have seen what drinking to much soda pop can do. My wife spent 7 days in the hosp. from diabetic complications, lost a toe and now that she has quit sodas her sugar levels have stayed normal for 30 days with no insulin. She now agrees it was the sodas keeping her levels way to high.

  • Independent View

    Sounds like this came right out of Bloomberg's NYC play book.
    it's o.k. for SNAP recipients to purchase candy, potato chips, fillets, crab legs and lobsters with their benefits, but not soda?
    That suggestion by Stollings, even though he is an MD defies logic. How is it helpful to dictate that someone on a lower economic tier should be prohibited from buying soda on a SNAP card yet, anyone on a higher economic tier can purchase all they want?
    I believe that the majority of the 49 million people getting SNAP are not entilted to them, they are receiving them, but we do not need a Food Police. This smacks of a Nanny State mentailty. Why not limit the size of Big Macs or Whoppers or Big Bufords in WV. Where do you start and why would you start and once you do start where does it stop?

    • liberty4all

      Couldn't agree with you more and am shocked so many are in favor of the government dictating what you can and cannot consume.

      I suspect the only reason is that those immediately affected would be welfare recipients and none of the posters ever envision themselves needing the safety net. I pray they are that fortunate.

      However I don't buy the argument that because it is a benefit paid for by taxpayer money the government has a right to control conduct. All of us who do not receive benefit from tax deductions or tax credits, please raise your hands. You are receiving a financial benefit on the backs of other tax payers (if you are not paying it the money comes from somewhere or someone else to fund the government). All of us receive benefits of taxpayer money in the form of roads, schools, law enforcement, etc... If this is the standard we are to apply what are the limits to which the government can control your personal life? Where does the slippery slope end where a few government elites think they are smart enough to make decisions on your behalf as to how you are to live your life? This will not stop at welfare recipients. Besides, if that is the underlying justification, why don't those who pay the most taxes be the ones who truly get to dictate how they are spent?

      Unless all of these posters are in the top 5% of income earners (and I highly doubt Warren Buffett is posting under an alias here), stop pretending that you really have that much skin in this game. Sit down with your tax returns and compare what you paid in state taxes last year with the state budget. Figure out the percentage you paid and then tell me about "how they spend my tax dollars". I bet your "contribution" to the SNAP benefits wouldn't even buy a can of the soda they want to ban.

      Finally, before I am attacked for being a liberal, etc . . . let it be clear I am a libertarian who would love to pay less taxes, but not at the expense of my personal liberty.

    • susanf1218

      Here's the difference - those in the upper
      "economic tiers", as you call them aren't using taxpayer money to buy their sodas!

      • former WV

        Exactly, if you are receiving assistance a limitation on what you can purchase is logical. If you make your own money you are free to purchase any legal item you desire.

  • Sherrie Haller

    I completely oppose this demanding performance of a proposal!! If 13% needs to be cut from our budget, stop doing it on the backs of those you represent; cut some of the cost by voting to cut your own salaries and benefits. Stop awarding teachers not doing their jobs by giving them another raise. Our state scores, as well as our national scores are very poor, which reflects on the actual teaching being accomplished. If in this Bill soda is banned for having sugar, what is next to be banned? Why not legislate for milk and juices, fruits and veggies be cheaper so they could be more easily afforded by those needing help. But wait.. there is even sugar in fruit juices! There is sugar in bread; sugars in cereals; sugars, or a derivative thereof, in most foods. And what about the evils of salt? It is a major factor in heart disease. Will you propose to outlaw the sale of salt, or anything containing salt, to those asking for help, also? What about outlawing the selling of whole milk to food stamp recipients? It has fats, which causes obesity, as well. What about banning meats? They harbor cholesterol, which also causes stroke, and heart attacks. Your proposal sounds completely ridiculous, and not well thought out at all. I hope and pray there are some others sitting with you that will have the foresight to think beyond speaking and voting on something just for the sake of appearing to have done something. WV has REAL problems that need addressing, and frankly, wasting more time and energy on this proposal makes little sense.

  • sb

    this may be a good idea - but obesity also comes from a sedentary lifestyle. Stollings looked a little on the obese side himself. If they start telling people on SNAP what they can/cannot buy we will be next.

  • Larry

    This needs to happen, soft drinks have zero nutritional benefit, and cause the rotting of the grub stubbers teeth.

  • Ragweed

    What a wonderful idea! Now SNAP beneficiaries will have to be a bit more creative in trading their SNAP benefits for pop. Let's see..... OK, I have SNAP benefits - you have a little cash. You buy me pop with your cash, and I will buy you whatever you want with my SNAP card.

    Pilot project? Give me a break! That will be a waste of money. Most people on the dole will find a way around this law. No need to waste the taxpayers' money on a study.

    Here is a novel idea. How about if we weed out those on the dole who are able-bodied or able to do even some work, and give them a job. Teach them to work if need be. A lot of roadsides can use some prettying-up. I'm sure the state and many businesses have plenty of part-time jobs available. It used to be called work-fare. I'm not against giving welfare to those who are in genuine need, but I am against giving my "after-drug-test" tax dollars to free-loaders and lazy people who don't have to pass a drug test. Scripture says that if a person doesn't work, he shouldn't eat. That's a good philosophy in my book.

  • ScobyD

    Great ideal. Why should we be responsible for their diabetes! By the way, around here I personally seen these people buy $100.00 plus of soda and then go sell it at spawn shop for less than half for what they gave for it just have a little cash mostly for pills!!!!!

  • CaptainQ

    I'm with wvfreys, this idea is DUMB with a capital "D"!

    • Larry


  • Aaron

    This is a political stunt meant to get the bill sponsors name in the news. He does so through classism and the vitriol posted below proves how successful he is.

    As the one poster pointed out below, lobbyist will come out in full force not only in Charleston but in Washington, and kill this bill before it ever gets off the ground.