The Idaho Senate has approved a joint memorial bill (S.J.M. 102) that would (i) state legislative findings, including that “taxpayers have a right to expect that their tax dollars will purchase fresh, healthy food that meets nutritional standards that will not contribute to health issues and higher medical costs,” and (ii) urge the federal government “to prohibit the purchase of unhealthy food items with Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.” Introduced on March 19, 2013, the proposal was adopted by voice vote on March 22 and sent to the state House.

The bill lists the types of foods that the legislature deems unhealthy, including “energy drinks defined as a beverage containing at least sixty-five milligrams of caffeine per eight fluid ounces that is advertised as being specifically designed to provide metabolic stimulation or an increase to the consumer’s mental or physical energy; a sweetened beverage or ‘soft drink’ defined as any nonalcoholic beverage to which a natural or artificial sweetener is added; packaged cookies, candy, chips and other ‘junk food’ with no nutritional value.” The proposal also calls on the president, Congress and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to encourage healthy lifestyle choices for SNAP recipients.

USDA rejected a New York City proposal to implement a two-year pilot project that would have prohibited residents from using food stamps to purchase sugar-sweetened beverages under SNAP. Details about that proposal and USDA’s action appear in issues 367 and 407 of this Update.