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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Your ignorance and lack of

Your ignorance and lack of compassion are absolutely astounding. You're bitter that you can't afford to buy food that you like, so you think everyone else should suffer, too? Here's a thought...how about you try putting some effort into improving your community and your state in order to help promote job growth, rather than trying to punish people who have a difficult enough time making ends meet as it is. Being on foodstamps does not automatically imply laziness. That's called a stereotype and, like most stereotypes, it simply isn't true. You should stop watching Faux News long enough to find out what's actually going on in the world around you, instead of assuming that anyone who uses foodstamps is somehow inferior to you.

so people that happen to be

so people that happen to be without a job for a while and are use to a diet of GOOD food should switch to crap or value brands. Problem is you work to hard for to little. But then again, you wouldn't know. Crap food clouds the brain.

cry baby

Not everyone on food stamps is lazy and buying junk food! That is your choice to buy value brand foods. Seriously whats the difference? 20 cents? If you don't like it get a better job since you think its so easy!

so much anger

am very sorry that you feel you are so limited by your budget. but why take out your anger issues on people less well off than you. people on wic/food stamps are NOT automatically lazy or out of work by choice. you are being most unfair & its OBVIOUS you have never been on such programs. its damn difficult to Get the help when one needs it (and i DO speak from experience!) i also speak to the fact you CAN eat better ON or off them if one pays attention & actually ISNT lazy..

You are the one whining about having to use value brands but its cheaper & better quality/taste to make from scratch.. the cost of the base ingrediants to make bread is far far cheaper than a loaf of dubious quality value brand. you buy canned goods why arent you buying from local growers & canning your own -again FAR cheaper.. soups, chili's, meat vegetables for a few hours work can fill your pantry for less than ANY grocery store. - when we were on food stamps to feed my children -- i learned and USED them for the ingrediants & my children ate better-

so frankly i find your arguments without value
they only seem to be ranting at others rather than dealing with your own anger.

Another persceptive

Not everyone who is on Foodshare or using State aided programs are lazy. In my opnion these programs were created to help families in need. Yes there are individuals who misuse and abuse the system. Does this make it right to make children and individuals who do not abuse the system to be punished? How is cutting way back on WIC and Foodshare going to help those who justly need it? In my life I have had the need to use such programs. I have always worked, but that does not mean life does not throw curve balls at unexpected times. It entirely depends upon the intergity of the individual who is on these programs whether or not they will use the assistance wisely or not. As a country we need to wise up and train up our children with honesty and intergity.

Hmmm... maybe if you were

Hmmm... maybe if you were eating organic milk and free range eggs your view of the world wouldn't be so unhealthy. I would rather poor people eat these healthier things than need massive medical care brought about by eating unhealthier GMO/processed foods. It is actually cheaper in the long run to eat healithier food. Most of the people eating this food are CHILDREN and child labor is banned here.

Your Opinion on limited food choices

You need to work smarter and spend more wisely so that you too can enjoy organic eggs and milk. They are better for you and for growing children. Our son and his family are organic farmers providing great foodstuffs at farmers' markets and through a CSA. Don't prevent anyone from buying their excellent products.

Bargain Brand

Like you, I have often been reduced to purchasing bargain brands because of funds - and maybe a few years ago, would have written a post such as yours. I think that now, when we have seen the problems junky processed foods wage on our population in regards to obesity, diabetes and other health concerns, that letting those on assistance choose more healthy options is really in OUR best interest.

The poor will only get sicker -and require more assistance - if they can not choose better options. That means more costs to you and me in the long run. Yes, working folks can not always buy "organic" or "free range" and I doubt many folks on food assistance still won't either because of the cost; they will want their SNAP funds to go further. But I think this law will only relegate people into having to eat unhealthy food.

Use some logic, friend. Not

Use some logic, friend. Not every person who gets benefits is this cookie cutter image you speak of. If I get a job, I will have to get childcare. Childcare is extremely expensive, it would take my entire check and would not leave my WORKING husband and I with any extra - but it would take away from ME raising MY children and would be paying for strangers to do it. How does this make ANY sense? Here, take my money AND my precious time with my children.... I'll go exhaust myself for no reason.

Sorry you are too proud to receive benefits, but if you are working you are paying for those benefits via taxes. Not to mention the years and years I DID work before having kids, and also put toward that.

If I am receiving benefits to help me raise my family, I don't want to feed them generic brands all the time. Do you know what cellulose is? It's WOOD PULP, and it is what the generic brands use in place of "expensive ingredients" to keep the price down. If I am getting help to raise my kids, I am going to do the best damn job I can do...and I'm sure as hell not feeding them wood pulp.

Quit whining and grow a soul

Two Things

You have just shown us that as a freedom loving American you enjoy the right to have a choice. People that receive food assistance have a much, much, smaller budget than you. Just because they can buy better things than value brand food doesn't mean they actually do. I've seen first hand the idiots who waste what they have, yet they were much more rare than the people who clipped every coupon, stocked up at every sale, and shopped smart.

The second thing you have shown is your poor reading comprehension ability. "Quit whining and get a job", are you serious? Did you read the same article as me? It points out that 858,000 people from WI are on food stamps, and that Walker has failed to create the 250,000 jobs he promised since 2010. That means a solid 1/3 of the people on food stamps who more than likely want a job can't even get one because jobs are unavailable.

"Quit whining and get a job" has to be the most insulting thing you could say to your fellow Americans who are making an honest struggle to get by.