National Commission on Hunger Recommends Excluding Sugar-Sweetened Beverages from SNAP Purchases – ABA Comes Out Swinging

Final Report coverThe National Commission on Hunger has released its final report, which is available to read here.

The bipartisan composition of the Commission – half its ten members were appointed by congressional Republicans, the other half by Democrats – may lend its recommendations more weight than would normally be the case, which may explain why the American Beverage Association (ABA) has quickly come out swinging at one of its most controversial recommendations – excluding sugar-sweetened beverages from the more than $70 billion in annual SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps) purchases.

In a statement to Politico, the ABA parroted “Nanny State” arguments which have been repeatedly used and reused in the many sugar tax wars of recent years, stating that “People using SNAP benefits make the same food-buying decisions as we all do; they don’t need government telling them which aisles they are allowed to go down and how best to serve their families.”

Stoking the fires of paranoid right-wing fantasies, it continued, “Allowing government to designate foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ would create a food code more complicated and arbitrary than the tax code. That would put us on a slippery slope of government intrusion into many decisions that have always been left to the individual to decide.”

According to the Commission’s website, it was created “by legislative mandate in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill of 2014. Commission members are tasked with a mandate to effectively use existing programs and funds to address domestic hunger and food insecurity; and reduce need for government nutrition assistance programs, while protecting the safety net for the most vulnerable members of society. The Commission is tasked with submitting its recommendations to Congress and the Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture by October 2015.

Commission members were appointed by leaders in the House and the Senate to ensure that the work would be bi-partisan. Commission members are serving on a voluntary basis.”

Read Nancy Huehnergarth’s take on the Commission’s sugar beverage recommendation here.

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