Bill Would Ban Food Stamp Sales of Steak, Lobster
But it's considered unlikely to pass
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2016 2:06 PM CST
No surf-and-turf allowed for SNAP recipients if this bill passes.   (PRNewsFoto/Outback Steakhouse)

(Newser) – A new bill introduced by New York state Sen. Patty Ritchie would ban the purchase of "luxury food items" and less-healthy food choices through the state's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, the Daily Meal reports. The bill gives examples of foods that should be banned—"high-end" cuts of steak, lobster, energy drinks, "decorated cakes," and junk food including soda, ice cream, candy, and cookies—but the state's Office of Temporary Disability Assistance would be required to put together the full list of banned foods. Ritchie, a Republican, says the bill could help fight obesity by "help[ing] low-income consumers make wise and healthy food choices."

Democrats have voiced opposition to bills like this, and the Journal News predicts it "likely doesn't have much of a future in the Democrat-controlled Assembly, where it hasn't yet been introduced." The co-executive director of a group advocating for low-income New Yorkers calls the bill "ridiculous," adding, "This is a Republican attempt to make it appear that poor people use tax dollars to buy steak and lobster." But, as the Washington Post reports, a similar proposal was actually signed into law in Kansas in April. New York's SNAP recipients are already banned from using food stamps to buy alcohol, cigarettes, pet food, and hot or prepared food items.