Wisconsin Bill Would Treat Organic Milk, Sharp Cheddar, Brown Eggs as "Junk Food"

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Wisconsin ranks 44th in the nation for new job creation. Rather than rolling up their sleeves and finding new and innovative ways to help create jobs, the Wisconsin legislature is spending its time telling people needing food assistance what they should be eating. AB 110, which will be up for a vote in the Assembly on Tuesday, May 7, is geared toward limiting "the amount of food stamp benefits that could be spent on junk food." But some of the fine print of the bill, bizarrely, would ban people from choosing more healthy and less expensive options for their families. The bill is one of many being considered that are unduly punitive of the poor.

Restricting Access to Organic and Other Whole Foods

WIC EggsAs of March 2013, 858,000 Wisconsinites receive FoodShare benefits. The bill, AB 110, would limit FoodShare, Wisconsin's food stamp program funded through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). As the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has reported, Governor Scott Walker has already proposed to require all "able-bodied adults" who receive food stamps (and don't have dependent children) to train or search for work in order to continue receiving those benefits. This even though Walker has failed to create the 250,000 jobs he promised when running for office in 2010.

Now Representative Dean Kaufert (R-Neenah) is sponsoring another bill to further limit FoodShare. Kaufert told the Wisconsin Radio Network that the bill would make it so that a benefit recipient "can't buy six bags of nachos and four cases of soda."

Specifically, the amended program would allow only a third of an individual's FoodShare benefits to be spent on a full range of food as they currently can be. The remaining two-thirds would be subject to the same restrictions as the federal Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutritional program, with some small modifications. (Both programs, of course, bar restaurant food, cigarettes, alcohol, and pet foods.)

WIC MilkWIC is a federal program intended to supplement food stamp benefits for a particularly vulnerable population of women and young children. As such, it has strict -- and at times very odd -- guidelines to focus these supplemental food dollars on nutritionally dense staple foods.

Wisconsin's AB 110 would mandate that two-thirds of a person's FoodShare benefits could be spent only on foods on the WIC-approved list. Exemptions have been added so recipients can also purchase fish, beef, pork, chicken, and potatoes. Strangely, exemptions were not added so that the "healthy" two-thirds could also be spent on a full range of healthy Wisconsin farm products and fresh food.

The result is that the bulk of your FoodShare dollars can be spent on milk, but not organic milk; on eggs, but only on white eggs by the dozen, not on brown, free-range, or organic eggs; on 100 percent whole wheat bread, but not on gluten-free bread for those with Celiac disease; on slices of American cheese, but not sharp cheddar. FoodShare dollars can be spent on dry beans, but not if they come from a money-saving bulk bin at your local food coop. You can get juice boxes for your children, but only Juicy Juice brand juice boxes.

In order for the state Department of Health Services to implement changes to FoodShare purchasing guidelines, it would need to attain a federal waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). But when Minnesota tried to prohibit purchase of candy or soda in 2004, and New York City tried to ban purchase of certain sugary drinks in 2010, both waiver requests were denied. The USDA points out the lack of clear standards to define foods as healthy or unhealthy.

As Bill Approaches Vote, Public Input Needed

According to the Associated Press, the Assembly committee heard input from food companies, grocery stores, and food banks. They told Wisconsin lawmakers that restrictions "would shame recipients and burden businesses with enforcement." Democrats on the committee -- who voted against the measure -- said it "would stigmatize poor people who already have limited options in buying food."

In addition to Rep. Kaufert, AB 110's supporters include Representatives John Nygren (R-Marinette), Kathy Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls), Ed Brooks (R-Reedsburg), Jeff Stone (R-Greendale), Paul Tittl (R-Manitowoc), Garey Bies (R-Sister Bay), Samantha Kerkman (R-Powers Lake), Scott Krug (R-Wisconsin Rapids), Pat Strachota (R-West Bend), Daniel LeMahieu (R-Cascade), Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green), Mike Kuglitsch (R-New Berlin), Michael Schraa (R-Oshkosh), Alvin Ott (R-Forest Junction), Mike Endsley (R-Sheboygan), Jeffrey Mursau (R-Crivitz), and Travis Tranel (R-Cuba City). In the Senate, the bill's supporters include Senators Robert Cowles (R-Shawano), Joe Leibham (R-Sheboygan), Frank Lasee (R-Casco), and Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend).

As Wisconsin Assemblymembers gather to vote on this bill May 7, these elected officials should expect to hear from those whose lives and food choices would be directly affected by the bill.

NOTE: AB 110 passed the Wisconsin State Assembly on May 7, 2013.


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WIC food prices

I used to work for WIC. They will only reimburse the grocer for a reasonable price. So I would guess that's why the WIC cereals etc. are reasonably price.

soy milk

I agree with your statement above, but actually soy milk is not good for your daughter because of the high estrogen level. Look more into Almond milk... much healthier. All the best to you!

What is healthy anyway?

What is healthy for one may not be healthy for all. Those of us who have children who are sensitive to cow dairy, may find soy, rice, goat or other alternative milks preferable. I have a child who is allergic to almonds, and sensitive to cow's milk and soy. The issue is not whether one food item is good or bad for another; we as parents and individuals need to make those decisions for ourselves and our families. Republicans and Tea-Partiers who purport to favor less government intervention across the board should not be telling anyone what to put in their grocery bag!


From reading the list, it seems that there are two REAL purposes: first, to put more profit in the hands of companies that make plain "1950" type foods that do not LOOK like junk food but, due to manufacturing costs, actually are, and less in the hands of "liberal" or "hippie" owned food sources that make the healther, organic products. And second, to make sure that kids growing up poor are less healthy because of what they ate growing up, AND more likely to shun healthier foods because of lack of exposure to them.

The fact that ALEC is associated with this bill (which even goes against local agriculture in that state; WISCONSIN restricting their OWN BEST KNOWN PRODUCT? What's next, FLORIDA restricting ORANGE JUICE?) tends to suggest that profit for "big agra" and "big pharma" (since eating less healthy foods leads to greater need for medicines) is the motivation. The health of poor children is just collateral damage, and since they don't vote...


I've read, and re-read the bill and cannot find any reference to the type of limitations that are portrayed above. I certainly oppose any such limitations, but the bill very simply requires the "food stamp program to be used only for foods, food products, and beverages that have sufficient nutritional value." The bill does not define "sufficient nutritional value." Frankly, I think this promo is merely to raise money and is a fraud. Please don't react to my opinion until you read the bill. You can click on "AB 110" above and read it for yourself.

Not seeing

Of course you 'didn't see it', because the link provided has been sanitized for 'their' protection. It's an edited/redacted version of the bill.
Here's the more salient link:www. prwatch.org/news/2013/03/12005/walker-walks-away-johndoe-investigation-pushes-budget-deal-only-alec-could-love Also can navigate to the PR Watch website and view the article entitled "Walker Pushes Budget Deal Only ALEC Could Love." And an exerpt:"Wisconsin ranks 42 in job creation in the United States, a figure that is deeply out of synch with the Upper Midwest and most of the nation. With an ALEC-inspired agenda that will have zero impact on job creation, Wisconsinites are in for more hardship." That part comes after a section of the article where it alludes to how the Koch addicts are curtailing access to information about WI 's current 'government.' The limited details on the bill provided hint at less to be forthcoming from administration in Madison.


These look like references to other articles your organization has written.


While I agree with you that AB 110 has no language to indicate what will be deemed to have sufficient nutritional value.. I would be curious to see the guidelines for which they are making this determination.

Reference to WIC restrictions is in the amendments

ASA1: http://docs.legis.wi.gov/2013/related/amendments/ab110/asa1_ab110

Legislators being stupid

Clearly those who wrote the bill identifying these foods as junk are clueless when it comes to healthy vs. junk food; which is why they should not be making the decisions. The USDA should be the agency setting the guidelines as to what is or is not healthy.

Not to mention, by not qualifying some of the alternatives those with food allergies will not be able to purchase foods such as rice or soy milk. Instead of making stupid stipulations such as this they should be focusing on the economy and jobs in Wisconsin.

I'm tired of legislative wasting time on stupid stuff such as this. Focus on what's important to the people who put you in office; which many are farmers or come from farm families. This type of legislation will do nothing to create jobs or improve economics in the state.