SNAP and the Junk Food Party

May 12, 2013

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According to the USDA website, which you can view the report here:   http://www.fns.usda.gov/pd/29SNAPcurrPP.htm,  in January of 2013, the number of people in Maine using food stamps was 252,482.  Gov. Paul R. LePage introduced a bill that would allow the state to exclude junk food from eligible food stamp purchases. To most of us Mainers this is common sense. Almost everyone is frustrated with the fraudulent welfare system. When you talk to store clerks they will tell you what the majority of SNAP funds are used for and it’s not for nutritional food. SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program.

Now, don’t get into a tither by thinking that I am completely stereotyping all food stamp users as junk food junkies. I am not. I know that there are people using these funds to feed and nourish their families in a healthy way. Having said that, you cannot deny that there are abuses going on. That is what the Maine people want changed. The people of Maine are hardworking people who do not want their tax money squandered.

So what happened this week? Killing the bill came as a surprise to most people. House Speaker Mark W. Eves (D-North Berwick) ordered Democrats on the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee (HHS) to kill the bill. Why? Why would they kill a bill that is common sense? Why kill a bill that is about fixing the current abuses to the SNAP program? Could it have anything to do with the House Speaker’s top legal aid, Alysia Melnick, entering the committee room? Not long after she came on the scene they voted 8 ~ 5 to kill the bill exactly along party lines. This was a pure political move. They do not want to give the Republican Governor any victories that could lead to his reelection. Bringing common sense welfare reform would look good on his record for reelection.

It is very upsetting to see Maine Democrats putting politics before doing what is right. Maine has a 28% obesity rate. Their vote to kill the bill even flies in the face of our current First Lady’s Let’s Move mission to raise a healthier generation of kids. It doesn’t make any sense to keep junk food in the program unless your motive is purely political.

The quote from Governor LaPage says it best. “The inconsistency of the majority party continues to stun me.”

He said “On one hand, they talk about wanting to reduce health care costs. But on the other hand, they encourage people to eat junk food with absolutely no nutritional value, all while being funded by Maine taxpayers.”

Rep. Drew Gattine (D~Westbrook) justified his vote by saying that the bill was “meaningless”. The use of taxpayers money intended for truly what it’s meant for, nutrition, is NOT meaningless. Making sure our children are getting the proper nutrition from these funds is NOT meaningless. Doing what your constituents want is NOT meaningless. I suggest to Mr. Gattine and ALL other politicians that putting the people they represent first, and not their political parties, is NOT meaningless!

This is exactly that kind of mentality that is so frustrating to voters. Putting “The Party” before The People. Both parties are guilty of this kind of behavior. I think it’s high time that these Representatives remember who they work for… US!

The good news is, all is not lost on this issue. The bill will still head to the floor of the House and Senate. Now is the time for us to use our voice! I encourage everybody to call your legislators and tell them exactly how you want them to vote. You can use this link to find your legislator.

http://www.maine.gov/legis/

 

Maria Solorzano

 

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