GOP Rep. wants food assistance program to exclude more junk foodSeveral Wisconsin food and beverage industry groups are criticizing an Assembly bill that would require residents on food assistance to buy mostly nutritious food.
By: By Steve Roisum, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Several Wisconsin food and beverage industry groups are criticizing an Assembly bill that would require residents on food assistance to buy mostly nutritious food.
More than 800,000 Wisconsinites depend on the FoodShare program. But Assembly Republican Dean Kaufert of Neenah says too many spend their allocation on junk food at taxpayers’ expense. Kaufert wants the state to establish a pilot study, where FoodShare recipients in a specific area would have to spend 85 percent of their allocation on nutritional food.
Kaufer says his bill does not define what is considered ‘nutritious’ food.
“If you read my bill, I acknowledge one thing: This proposal is short on details,” he said. “But that's because I intentionally did it that way, so that the groups wouldn’t be going nuts already.”
But critics of Kaufert’s bill are already speaking up. Nine organizations have signed a letter in opposition, including the Midwest Food Processors Association. President Nick George says the government has no right to decide what is nutritious, and therefore what companies win and which ones lose.
He says, for example, what if potato products like French fries and chips don't make the list? He says less potato demand would mean that processors would have to let some workers go.
“That will have a very negative impact on our industry,” George said. “Wisconsin is number three in the country in the production and processing of potatoes.”
Kaufert says hopes the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will help develop a list of nutritious foods. The bill remains in committee, for now.